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Full text of "An Unspeakable Crime: The Prosecution and Persecution of Leo Frank by Elaine Marie Alphin"

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who cannot witness 
injustice without speaking 
up> and who will never 
endure the companionship 
of an accusing conscience 


Chapter 1 


Chapter 2 


Chapter 3 


Chapter 4 


Chapter 5 


Chapter 6 


Chapter 7 


Chapter 8 


Chapter 9 


Chapter 10 


Chapter 11 



T >*!^ .-"VA 


Chapter 13 



Chapter 15 


Chapter 16 


Chapter 17 


Chapter 18 


Major Figures in the Leo Frank Case. 


Glossary of Legal Terminology 

Further Reading '. 

Authors Note and Acknowledgments . 

Selected Bibliography 

Source Notes 




Thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan lived in the poor section of Atlanta, 
Georgia, but she dressed up like a high-society girl on the morning of 
Saturday, April 26, 1913, Confederate Memorial Day. Even though 
the War Between the States had been fought thirty-five years before 
her birth, Mary was excited to celebrate the event. There would be a 
parade and fireworks, and rumor had it that the widow of the great 
Confederate general Stonewall Jackson would actually attend! 

After doing her morning chores and eating a breakfast of leftover 
cabbage and bread, Mary put on a pretty store-bought violet dress 
that accentuated her already well-developed figure. This was a 
holiday — a day when a little innocent flirting with boys would be 
fun. She carefully fixed a pair of bows in her thick auburn hair and 
then topped off the outfit with a blue straw hat that brought out 
the blue in her bright eyes. Her mother stood on the front porch 
watching Mary go and noticed her daughters excitement: "She had 
dimples in her cheeks." 

Clutching her silver mesh purse and a black parasol, Mary hurried 
through misty rain to catch the streetcar at 1 1:45. Sixteen-year-old 
Helen Ferguson remembered waving at Mary as Mary rode toward 
town. And George Epps, a fifteen-year-old newsboy, said he'd talked 
to her on the streetcar about watching the parade together. 

But Mary had to make one stop before she could celebrate: she 
had to pick up her pay. Mary worked at the National Pencil Company 
with more than a hundred other teenage girls. Because of a supply 




A photograph of Mary Phagan taken a short time before her death. 

shortage of metal used to make pencil caps, she had only worked 
two shifts during the past week, but Mary wanted the $1.20 she had 
earned. Around noon that Saturday, she crossed beneath the granite 
facade of the National Pencil Company building to enter the factory. 

Mary Phagan never left the building alive. 

And she was not the only person to die. 





Seventeen-year-old Grace Hicks worked at the National Pencil 
Company. She'd enjoyed herself at Saturday's parade and was 
surprised when her policeman brother-in-law, W. W. "Boots" 
Rogers, telephoned her early Sunday morning. He told her that the 
police had found a body in the factory basement, and it was in such 
terrible condition that no one could identify it. Perhaps Grace might 
recognize the girl. 

Boots Rogers picked up Grace around 4:30 A.M. He drove back 
to the factory and led Grace through the trapdoor to the basement, 
where she identified the body as Mary Phagan, who worked with her 
in the metal department. 

Shocked at the sight, Grace later said that Mary "was bruised, in 
the face somewhere, and one of her teeth was knocked out." Grace 
thought Mary "looked like she had been hit with something right 
there/' pointing at her own face. "It was bruised, and a hole in her 
head, here. She had shavings all in her hair." She said Marys face "was 
mighty near black" with some sort of dirt or cinders. Grace couldn't 
bear to look any longer. "It scared me." 

The police wanted to notify Marys family Grace didn't know 
how to contact them, but she thought Helen Ferguson, another girl 
who worked at the factory might know. When they called Helen 
from the factory office, she said that Mary's family was too poor to 
afford a telephone. She volunteered to tell her friends mother and 
stepfather in person. 

The news would not come as a complete surprise, as Marys 
parents had waited up for her all night. 

After Marys father had died in Marietta, where Mary had been 
born, her mother married John Coleman and they raised Mary in 
Atlanta. Frannie Coleman had been so worried when Mary hadn't 
come home Saturday night that she'd sent her husband to town to 
look for her, thinking that Mary might have gone to the movies. John 
Coleman searched for nearly three hours. Then he came home and 
started knocking on neighbors' doors before using a friends phone to 
call police after midnight. 



Around 5:30 A.M., John and Frannie Coleman learned what 
had happened to Mary when Helen knocked on their door. Mary's 
mother collapsed in shock at the description of her daughters death. 

At least she found out before the morning edition of the Atlanta 
Constitution splashed the news of Marys murder across its front 
page. Reporter Britt Craig had been in the police station when the 
telephone rang at 3:30 Sunday morning. "A white woman has been 
killed up here," said Newt Lee, the National Pencil Company's 
elderly, African American night watchman. 

Britt followed the police to the factory and climbed through the 
trapdoor into the basement, stumbling through the smoky darkness 
behind the officers. "Look out, white folks," warned Newt Lee, 
"you'll step on her." 

Neither Britt nor the policemen were surprised to hear Newt 
Lee call them "white folks." In 1913 Georgia, this form of address 
would have been considered a mark of respect from a black man 
who knew his place: below the whites who were in charge. The men 
stopped and shone their flashlights where Newt pointed. Britt could 
see a girl lying on the rubbish-strewn earthen floor, partially hidden 
beside a storage shed. 

The officers gently turned the body over and were shocked to 
see a cord cutting deeply into her throat. Her swollen tongue bulged 
out from a mouth choked with cinders and sawdust and stained with 
blood. One shoulder had been bitten. Her dress was pushed up above 
her knees, and the men saw blood that indicated the girl might have 
been "criminally assaulted," or "outraged" — 1913 euphemisms for rape. 

Britt was as angry as the officers that a young girl in a party dress 
lay dead and violated in the dirt of the factory basement. To these 
men, Mary Phagan was a child who should have been home with her 
family instead of having to work in a factory — especially one run by 
a northern businessman, as the National Pencil Company was. Britt 
took notes as the officers searched the basement. 

The men found a sliding wooden door that led to an alley. The 
door appeared to have been opened recently and then closed again. 
They also found one of Mary's shoes and a bloody handkerchief. 
As they raked through the sawdust and litter around the girl, they 


found a note, scribbled in pencil on a sheet of white lined paper that 
matched a company notepad that lay nearby One officer read 
it aloud: 

he said he wood love me land down play like the night 
witch did it but that long tall black negro did boy his slef 

At that, Newt Lee muttered something. The other men thought 
he said, "White folks, that's me." 

Then the police found a second note beside Marys head. This 
one was written on a National Pencil Company order sheet: 

mam that negro hire doivn here did this i went to make 
water and he push me down that hole a long tall negro 
black that hoo it wase long s learn tall negro i wright 
while play with me 

These notes appeared to have been written very recently and could 
have been interpreted in two different ways. They might have been 
written by Mary just before she died, in a last-minute effort to identify 
her killer. Or they might have been written by the killer, to throw 
suspicion away from himself and onto someone else. Police records 
don t indicate exactly what the officers on the scene thought about the 
notes, but their immediate reaction was to turn on Newt Lee in fury 
"You did this/' said the sergeant, "or you know who did it." 

The night watchman began to shake. He insisted he hadn't done 
anything. But he was tall and had very dark skin, so to the officers, he 
looked like the man described in the notes. They also remembered his 
reaction to the first note. Newt Lee looked like the obvious suspect, 
and they immediately took him into custody. In 1913 the Atlanta 
police force was entirely white and, as reporter Harold Ross would 
later write, "The murder of Mary Phagan was the most brutal crime 
in the annals of the South. After the unfolding of the details the 
police did what they always do in Georgia — arrested a Negro." 

After the officers on the scene found the notes, Detectives John 
Starnes and John Black arrived to continue the investigation. While 



37 & 39 SOUTH FORSYT 1 ST. 

The two notes discovered 
near Mary Phagan's body. 
"' i top note reads: "mam 
it negro hire down here 
I this i went to make 
water and he push me down 
that hole a long tall negro 
ack that boo it wase long 
earn tall negro iwright 
while play with me" The 
bottom note reads: "he said 
he wood love me land down 
play like the nightwiteh did 
it but that long tall black 
negro did boy his slef" The 

these notes was important 
to the case. 

Atlanta, Ga., L 


--. — ■ 
* 1 1 

W Phone Main 171. 

Order No 


i t *>/ r "... 1 * y -f / ^ ?S 

' t/fo/f - 


Britt Craig wrote his news story for the Atlanta Constitution and 
Helen Ferguson went to break the news to Marys parents, Detective 
Starnes searched the crime scene. He found Marys hat in the 
basement trash pile. He also studied the sliding wooden door more 
carefully and saw bloody handprints all over it. A metal pipe leaned 
against the wall nearby, and Starnes thought it might have been used 
to force the door open. There was no sign of Marys purse. 

Meanwhile, Detective Black was following a hunch. The detective 
had already provided evidence that had hung several criminals, and he 
wanted to be the one to find this girl's murderer. He was not satisfied 
with the idea of the old black man as the killer. As reporter Ross 
explained, Black and other members of the police realized something 
"which determined their whole future course of action: The murder 
of Mary Phagan must be paid for with blood. And a Negro's blood 
would not suffice. " 

But if Newt Lee was not to be charged with the crime, who 
should be? 

Something Lee said had bothered Detective Black. Lee claimed 
that he'd tried to call the factory superintendent, Leo Frank, after 
he'd found the body. When he got no answer, he called the police. 
The night watchman might be lying, of course, but if he was telling 
the truth, why hadn't Leo Frank answered his phone in the middle of 
the night? 

Even more troubling, the police had tried to call Leo Frank after 
arresting Newt Lee, and there was still no answer. They'd called and 
awakened other officials of the National Pencil Company with no 
trouble. Detective Black suspected that Leo Frank's refusal to answer 
his phone was important to the case. 





When the telephone rang at 7:00 Sunday morning, twenty-nine- 
year-old Leo Frank felt a trace of unease. He had dreamed the 
telephone had rung in the middle of the night, and now its ringing 
came far too early for a social call. He lifted the receiver reluctantly. 

"Is this Mr. Frank, superintendent of the National Pencil 
Factory?" It was Detective Starnes. 

When Leo Frank answered yes, the detective told him he had to 
come to the factory immediately Leo objected, saying he hadnt had 
his breakfast yet, but Starnes insisted he would send a patrol car. 

The car arrived quickly, and Leo's wife, Lucille, invited the 
policemen to enter the home she and Leo shared with her parents. Leo 
came downstairs, only partially dressed. He questioned Detective Black 
and Boots Rogers with nervous distress, asking what had happened at 
the factory and whether the night watchman had reported anything. 

Detective Black interrupted him. "Mr. Frank, you had better 
get your clothes on and let us go to the factory and see what has 


Leo Frank in 1915, two years after the death of Mary Phagan. 


To the detective, Leo's behavior seemed suspicious as he struggled 
with his tie. "His voice was hoarse and trembling and nervous and 
excited/' Black recalled. Boots Rogers also thought Leo looked 
nervous, and his questions were jumpy. But the police officers weren't 
particularly reassuring. Leo later remembered, "I asked them what the 
trouble was and the man who I afterwards found out was Detective 
Black hung his head and didn't say anything." 

A four-person conversation that was part of a police investigation 
should have been simple to document. But the confusion that would 
mar every step of the attempts to find out what had happened to 
Mary Phagan began that morning with this initial conversation 
between the police officers and the Franks. Leo, Lucille, and Boots 
Rogers recalled that Leo's wife offered everyone coffee, perhaps 
hoping that southern hospitality would calm the tension. But 
Detective Black remembered that Leo suggested the coffee. To the 
detective, it sounded as if the superintendent wanted to delay going 
to the factory. 

Leo recalled that the police asked him, in front of his wife, if 
he knew Mary Phagan. He told them he didn't. Then they asked, 
"Didn't a little girl with long hair hanging down her back come up 
to your office yesterday sometime for her money?" Leo agreed that a 
girl had indeed come to his office for her pay but said he didn't know 
her name was Mary Phagan. He had issued the $1.20 she had earned 
based on her employee number, not her name. 

Leo finished dressing and left with the officers, without any 
breakfast or coffee. All three men agreed that they drove to the 
mortuary to view the body Leo recalled looking closely at the girl 
and identifying her, but both Black and Rogers remembered the 
superintendent hanging back, then turning away nervously before 
they left to go to the factory. 

Detective Black observed everything Leo did with a suspicious 
eye. Trying to answer police questions, the superintendent fumbled 
through pay records to confirm that Mary Phagan was the girl he 
had paid on Saturday. When asked to take the group down to the 
basement, Leo asked again for coffee before struggling with the 
power switch and the cables of the manual elevator. In the end, an 


The police station in Atlanta, Georgia, as it was in 1913 at the time of the 
murder of Mary Phagan. Leo Frank was first questioned at this station. 

employee had to work the elevator. Black saw the superintendents 
nervousness and his requests for coffee as attempts to delay the 
moment when he would have to look at the scene of the crime. 
Once they reached the basement, Black thought it was significant 
that Leo paid little attention to the sawdust and cinders where 
police told him the body had lain but was distressed by the forced 
door with the bloody handprints. 

Then they all drove to the police station house, where officers 
wanted Leo to examine the two notes found beside Mary's body 
Despite the mild weather, Leo shivered uncontrollably as he sat in the 
front seat of the police car, adding to Detective Blacks suspicion. 

Leo felt he was only reacting naturally to police suspicion and a 
horrifying murder. Later, he would say, 

Imagine, awakened out of my sound sleep, and a run 
down in the cool of the morning in an automobile driven 
at top speed, without any food or breakfast, rushing 
into a dark passageway, coming into a darkened room, 
and then suddenly an electric light flashed on, and to 
see the sight that was presented by that poor little child; 
why, it was a sight that xuas enough to drive a man to 
distraction. Of course J was nervous; any man would be 
nervous if he was a man. 

Detective Black felt no sympathy for Leo Franks nervousness. He 
knew they needed to arrest a better suspect than Newt Lee quickly, 
before people criticized a police force that couldn't even find the 
villain who had attacked and murdered an innocent girl. 

As Atlanta's population had gone up, crime had increased. Unable 
to keep pace, the police force had gotten a reputation for failing to 
solve crimes. At times they tried to improve their success rate by 
resorting to brutality to get confessions when solid investigation 
didn't bring results. 

Unfortunately, the police got off to a poor start on this murder 
case by breaking the chain of evidence from the factory. When Leo 
arrived at the police station with the officers, there was no sign of the 


two notes they wanted him to see. The police would later discover 
that reporter Harold Ross of the Atlanta Journal had removed them 
to use in his paper, trying to make up for missing Britt Craigs scoop 
in the Atlanta Constitution. But in front of Leo, the police acted 
untroubled by this disappearance, even though the notes had not yet 
been examined by any expert or even dusted for fingerprints. Chief of 
Detectives Newport Lanford spoke with Leo briefly and then let him 
go and turned back to other leads. 

While officers interrogated Newt Lee, taking him back and forth 
between the station house and the factory basement, other detectives 
followed up a report from Edgar Sentell, a twenty-one-year-old 
grocery clerk who knew Mary Phagan. Sentell had read Britt Craigs 
story in the Constitution, and told police that he'd seen Mary around 
12:30 Saturday night with twenty-four-year-old Arthur Mullinax, a 
streetcar conductor. That led some officers to a new theory. Perhaps 
the African American watchman had committed the murder, but not 
alone. Perhaps he had been paid to do it by a white man. 

When police questioned Mullinax, he confessed that he knew 
Mary and greatly admired her. They had both been in a church 
play the previous Christmas. Mary had been the star, and Mullinax 
admitted, "I couldn't keep my eyes off her." With no more substantial 
evidence than that, police arrested Arthur Mullinax on suspicion of 
murder. Another questionable lead would prompt them to also arrest 
James Gantt, a disgruntled former employee of the factory who had 
come by that Saturday claiming to want some shoes he'd left behind. 

But Detective Black wasn't convinced that these new leads were 
important. That morning he'd observed a nervous, excited man who 
seemed reluctant to see either the basement site where Mary had been 
found or the dead girl's body itself. Detective Black needed to know 
more about the factory superintendent. Who was this Leo Frank? 




Leo Frank had lived in Atlanta for nearly five years, but he still felt 
very much an outsider in the South. Although he was technically a 
southerner, having been born in Texas, Leo's parents had moved to 
Brooklyn, New York, in the summer of 1884 when he was only three 
months old. Rudolph and Rachel Frank had raised Leo as most New 
York Jewish parents raised their children at the time. He played with 
friends in the Brooklyn streets, went to the seaside in summer with 
his family, attended public schools, and played basketball on his high 
school team (which was undefeated his senior year, even in a game 
against the Yale University varsity team). He also read voraciously, 
and his imagination was so fired by the books he read that he named 
his small fleet of toy sailboats after the characters in James Fenimore 
Coopers Leatherstocking Tales series of novels. 

After graduating from the Pratt Institute, Leo studied mechanical 
engineering at Cornell University, where he was active on the 
debate team and made close friends who called him Max. He had 
also discovered a fascination with photography and enjoyed taking 
landscape photos. Morris Clurman wrote that Leo was well thought 
of "by his fellow students who loved him for his manly qualities, his 
warm-heartedness and his readiness at all times to help a friend. He 
was the soul of honor." William Lynn Ransom recalled, "He always 
impressed me as a quiet, sincere, dependable, substantial and rather 
matter of fact sort erf a fellow with rather emphatic convictions and 
an absolute loyalty to them and to sound standards of life." 


Leo Frank, age 9. 

Leo worked as an engineer for B. F. Sturtevant Company in Hyde 
Park, Massachusetts, after he graduated from Cornell. He missed New 
York, however, and returned there to work for the National Meter 
Company. By this time, Rudolph Frank had been forced to retire after 
a railway accident, and Leos parents and sister, Marian, were living 
on the interest from the injury settlement. In 1907 Moses Frank 
(Leos uncle and a southerner who had fought for the Confederacy 
in the Civil War) suggested a way Leo could help the family. Uncle 
Moses had invested in the National Pencil Company in Atlanta. 
His engineer nephew, who had a keen understanding of production 
machinery, looked like just the person to help improve the company. 

In preparation for his new job, Leo went to Germany to 
study pencil manufacturing at Eberhard Faber. Then he moved 
to Atlanta in 1908 to apply the scientific production methods he 
had observed abroad. But his new home city was very different 
from the society he had experienced in New York, Massachusetts, 
or even Germany. Many southerners lived as much in the past as 
the present. Although the Civil War had been over for almost fifty 
years, people kept its memory alive, calling it the War Between 
the States (stressing their belief in the right of individual states to 
secede), the War of Northern Aggression or, simply, the Recent 
Unpleasantness. People who had lived through the war and their 
descendants honored the soldiers who had fought in it. Celebrations 
like Confederate Memorial Day mattered equally to older people 
who had grown up before the war and to young people who had 
never known the Old South, like Mary Phagan and the other 
teenagers who worked in the National Pencil Company. 

One reason the "unpleasantness" seemed so recent was because 
the U.S. government's process of bringing the Confederate states 
back into the Union during Reconstruction felt like an extension of 
the war to most southerners. During the war, Union soldiers from 
the North commanded by General William T. Sherman had swept 
across Georgia to the sea, burning over 80 percent of Atlanta to the 
ground in their wake. After the peace, northern officials had swept 
into southern states, determined to suppress not only slavery, but any 
signs of rebellious thinking. These Yankees levied heavy taxes upon 


owners of small farms and large plantations alike. Southerners had no 
way to vote against these taxes, because only politicians approved by 
the northerners could run for office. 

In these circumstances, any northern businessman would be 
viewed as an outsider and an enemy. Leo, standing only five feet six 
inches tall and weighing only 120 pounds, could never pass for a 
typical well-fed, physically fit southern gentleman. With his delicate, 
fine-boned face; a full, fleshy mouth; and nearsighted eyes that 
appeared to bulge behind his thick glasses, Leo looked to the people 
of Atlanta exactly the image of a calculating Yankee. 

Nevertheless, Leo was so successful that he was promoted 
to a directorship, a vice presidency, and the position of factory 
superintendent. But his professional success did little to help him feel 
at ease in southern society. People were more formal in their manners 
than what he had seen in New York. Worried that he might somehow 
offend someone in this strange new world, Leo carefully considered 
his every action and word before doing or saying anything, to the 
point that he appeared stilted and distant. 

But Leo worked to make himself at home in Atlanta's Jewish 
society, and there he was welcomed. Within a week of arriving, 
Leo was introduced to twenty-year-old Lucille Selig and began 
courting her. The Seligs were a high-society family in Atlanta's Jewish 
community, but Leo's letters to Lucille show that he was more in 
love with the girl than her social status. Generously plump, pretty, 
dark-haired, and quick-witted, Lucille seemed a good match for Leo, 
teasing him out of his serious nature and making her affection for 
him clear. When Valentine's Day came, she showed him how he had 
captured her heart by giving him a handmade red construction-paper 
heart displaying his name. On June 14, 1909, just five days after he 
proposed to her and she accepted his hand in marriage, Leo wrote: 

Your kindly words for me are much appreciated and are 
treasured up on the scrolls of memory. 
I am not much on the sentimental letter writing. Read 
between the lines and see if you can feel the warmth of 
the writer s feelings for you! 



Leo Frank and Lucille Selig in Atlanta, Georgia. Leo was introduced to Lucy 
shortly after arriving in Atlanta in 1908. They were married in 1910. 

. . . Continue to enjoy yourself, sweet one y and be 
assured of a joyous welcome home at the hands of 

Yours for eternal happiness 

Lucille and Leo were married on November 30, 1910, and Lucille 
admirted rhar she mighr be "foolishly fond of him. But he is my 
husband, and I have rhe righr to love him very much indeed, and I 
do. If I make coo much of him, perhaps it is because he has made too 
much of me." In the spring of 1913, their married life became even 
happier when Lucille proudly announced that she was pregnant. 


Happy in his marriage and in his work, Leo quickly rose to 
prominence in Atlanta's Jewish community He worked with a 
number of charitable organizations and was elected president of the 
local B'nai B nth chapter, a Jewish community service organization. 
Despite his success with the National Pencil Company and Jewish 
society, however, Leo was not popular among typical Atlanta citizens. 

Many Atlanta citizens had their reasons to dislike everything Leo 
Frank represented. First of all, he was Jewish. The Old South had not 
been particularly anti-Semitic, or prejudiced against Jews. In fact, 
Judah P. Benjamin had risen to the position of attorney general of the 
Confederacy and then secretary of war. Still, while Atlanta's sizable 
Jewish population was respected, they were still in the minority, and 
they were considered ''different." 

Leo was even more different from other Atlanta Jews because he 
was both a Yankee and an industrialist. This combination made him 
an unappealing addition to any southern community. Reconstruction 
had hit southern farmers and rural workers hard. Many were forced 
to give up their farms and move to cities where they could find 
industrial work. Between 1900 and 1913, Atlanta had doubled in 
population. Newcomers desperately hunted for jobs in the mills and 
factories. Wages were so low (ten to fifteen cents an hour — only two- 
thirds of what workers in the North earned) that families had as many 
members working as possible. 

Nearly all the production-line employees at the National Pencil 
Company were teenagers. Although child labor laws had technically 
been in existence in some states since 1836, the first federal child 
labor law would not be written until 1916. That was too late to help 
Mary Phagan, who had started working in a textile mill when she was 
only ten years old. 

Newspapers fed the resentment that Atlanta readers already felt 
toward northern-owned factories. The Atlanta Georgian, owned by 
sensationalist publisher William Randolph Hearst, was willing to 
exploit any issue that would sell papers and, with more passion than 
accuracy, regularly attacked factory owners. The front page of the 
Monday morning Georgian showed a horrifying photograph of Marys 
body on the slab at the undertakers. Five pages of articles were full of 



In the weeks after the murder, newspapers published photographs of Mary Phagan's clothes 
t evidence found around her body. This photo of the clothes Mary was wearing and 
rd found around her neck was published in the April 30 issue of the Georgian. 

details about the murder and the family's grief — many of which had 
been exaggerated (and occasionally invented). 

There was no twenty-four-hour cable news coverage in 1913, 
no Internet blogs or YouTube videos or Twitter updates, but people 
then had the same fascination with the news as they do today. 
They learned about the twists and turns in any newsworthy event 
by buying new editions of the papers. Each newspaper published 
several editions every day and would strive to sell the most papers 
by coming up with breaking news and dramatic headlines to capture 
the reader's attention. 

By that afternoon, both the Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta 
Constitution were featuring photos of Mary Phagan and presenting 
the girl as southern womanhood defiled, enslaved by northern 
industrialization. The Constitution offered a reward of one thousand 
dollars to anyone who'd seen Mary after noon on Saturday. 

By the time those afternoon editions hit the streets, a young 
machinist had made news by shifting the scene of the crime from the 
basement to the upper floors — near Leo s office. 




When eighteen-year-old Robert Barrett got to work a little after 6:30 
Monday morning, he saw a red spot on the floor of the factory's 
second-story metal department, where Mary Phagan had worked. 
Robert admitted, "I never searched for any blood spots before, until 
Miss Jefferson came in and said she understood Mary had been 
murdered in the metal department, then I started to search right 
away; that was the only spot I could find; I could tell it was blood 
by looking at it. I can tell the difference between blood and other 
substances. I found the hair some few minutes afterward — about 6 
or 8 strands of hair and pretty long." He reported his finds to his 
foreman, Lemmie Quinn, who called the police. 

Detective Starnes arrived, surrounded by reporters, to find a 
group of factory workers crowding around the machine where Barrett 
worked. Fourteen-year-old Magnolia Kennedy, a metal department 
worker like Mary, stared at the strands of hair Robert had found 
twisted around his lathe and announced, "Its Marys hair. I know it." 

Detective Starnes hadn't come alone this time. Police Chief James 
Litchfield Beavers had realized this case was going to be important to 
all of Atlanta, so he decided to make sure that the investigation was 
proceeding correctly. Beavers examined the hairs and had an officer 
chip out a few pieces of the red-splashed wooden floor so he could test 


it himself, using a bottle of alcohol. When the color didn't dissolve 
in the alcohol (not a very scientific test, even in 1913), Chief Beavers 
announced to the reporters that the substance was blood. This created 
the suspicion that Mary had been killed near Leo Franks office and 
then dragged to the elevator and taken downstairs to the basement. 

Reporters, searching for new scoops to fill the pages of those 
extra editions, eagerly questioned the workers about Mary and 
about what went on inside the factory. The teenage employees 
were flattered by the attention, and many of them agreed to be 
interviewed. Police investigators were equally willing to talk to 
the press, presenting developing theories as solid information. 
Newspapers printed more and more editions in the first days after 
Marys body was found, whipping their readers into a frenzy with 
their constantly breaking news. 

Detective Black didn't go to the factory with the other 
policemen. He and another officer went to Leo Franks house to 
escort the superintendent back to the police station. As they walked 
downtown, Leo repeatedly asked why they wanted him. When 
Black wouldn't answer, the other officer said, "Well, Newt Lee has 
been saying something." 

Finally, they reached the station house. Once again, Leo passed 
through the marble archway and under the scowling gargoyles that 
watched over the towering Gothic building. Leo was still waiting to 
speak with Detective Chief Lanford when Herbert Haas, the National 
Pencil Company's attorney arrived. 

A few minutes later, Luther Rosser joined Haas. Rosser would 
act as co-counsel in the case. Rosser handled high-profile corporate 
cases in Atlanta and was the law partner of Governor-elect John 
Slaton. Rosser liked to present himself as a robust country boy who 
rarely wore a tie — something of a diamond in the rough. But he 
had a reputation as a powerful trial attorney who was a master at 
cross-examination, a talent that no one expected would be needed at 
this point. 

Busy talking to each other, Rosser and Haas missed Detective 
Chief La n ford's return and his beckoning of Leo into his office. 
When they realized Leo was gone, the lawyers became outraged that 


he was miking to the police without counsel, and Rosser demanded to 
be allowed to accompany his client. 

Chief Lanford was surprised by the lawyers vehemence. He had 
simply wanted to ask Leo a few questions about Newt Lee's time 
slip for his Saturday night rounds. Rosser's outburst seemed overly 
dramatic since Leo Frank hadn't been charged with anything. Chief 
Lanford began to wonder why the lawyer was so determined to 
protect his client. 

When Chief Lanford showed the time slip to Leo, Leo noticed 
that there were problems with it. The watchman should have been 
punching in regularly as he made his rounds, but he had missed 
several punches. While this made Newt Lee look more guilty, Chief 
Lanford now viewed Leo himself with increasing suspicion. He asked 
Leo repeatedly to clarify his answers about the watchman's job and his 
own motivations in setting up Newt Lee's schedule on Confederate 
Memorial Day. 

Outraged that police could even consider Leo Frank as a possible 
suspect, Rosser blustered, "Why, it's preposterous. A man who would 
have done such a deed must be full of scratches and marks and his 
clothing must be bloody." 

Eager to discourage police suspicion, Leo voluntarily stripped, 
displaying his unscratched chest and arms. Haas suggested that police 
should be allowed to inspect the dirty laundry at the Franks' home, 
and Leo agreed. Detective Black and another officer sorted through 
all Leo's laundry without finding any blood. 

After they left, Leo felt confident that he had allayed suspicions 
about himself. Now he concentrated on how he could get the case 
solved quickly so that factory production could return to its normal 
schedule. He phoned his assistant, Herbert Schiff, and asked him 
to find outside investigators, preferably Pinkerton detectives. The 
Pinkertons had a reputation for working for large companies whose 
owners paid them to do what was best for the company, whether by 
investigating crimes or breaking strikes. 

By Monday afternoon, Leo felt he had protected his company. He 
sent a telegram to his uncle, assuring him that he had the situation 
well under control. 


Members of Mary Phagan's family at her funeral on April 29, 1913. Left to right: Ollie Mae 
Phagan, Mary's sister; Fannie Phagan Coleman, her mother; J. W. Coleman, her stepfather; 
Ben Phagan, her brother; and Lizzie Marietta Durham, her aunt. 

But according to the Monday evening and Tuesday morning 
editions of the newspapers, nothing was under control. Both the 
Georgian and the Constitution warned their readers that police 
claimed they were working around the clock to discover the identity 
of Mary Phagan s killer but without success. The papers offered new 
rewards for any additional information. 

As Mary Phagan's family buried their daughter on Tuesday 
morning in her hometown of Marietta, they certainly hoped the 



police would soon identify the murderer. The 
Reverend T. T. G. Linkous prayed over Marys 
grave with steadily increasing fervor: 

We pray for the police and the detectives 
of the city of Atlanta. We pray that they 
may perform their duty and bring the 
wretch that committed this act to justice. 
We pray that the authorities apprehend 
the guilty party or parties and punish 
them to the full extent of the law. Even 
that is too good for the imp of Satan that 
did this. Oh, God, I cannot see how even 
the devil himself coidd do such a thing. 






Fourteen-year-old Alonzo Mann worked as an office boy at the 
National Pencil Company. One of his jobs was to bring his boss the 
morning newspaper. Britt Craig's article on the front page of the 
Tuesday Constitution predicted that Leo Frank would be arrested 
before the day was over. Alonzo recalled, "I cried when I read the 
paper before I gave it to Frank. Frank talked to me, telling me always 
[to] be good as he was in life and that way it would always work out 
right. Frank could tell I cried." 

Not all the newspaper morning editions agreed with Britt Craig. 
The Journal headlines screamed "THREE HANDWRITING 
BY BODY OF GIRL" and claimed that Newt Lees guilt was proven. 
But Detective Black did not believe that the night watchman could 
have acted alone to commit this murder. He thought the real culprit 
was someone who had paid him to write the notes to confuse the 
police. And he was certain that someone was Leo Frank. 

Late Tuesday morning, Black investigated Lee's apartment and 
found a bloody linen shirt. He thought the shirt looked freshly 
pressed, suggesting that it hadn't been worn. The blood looked as if it 
had been rubbed into the fabric, not spattered onto it while someone 
was wearing it. Black suspected that Leo had offered his own laundry 
to be searched (even though Haas, not Leo, had made the suggestion) 
specifically so the police would also search Newt Lees laundry — and 


The Atlanta Georgian IxtraNoB 


iTflfA WILL 


Late this afternoon, Chief of Detect.ves Lanford mad. 
I PONY CONTEST j FIRST- BRADY *" in, P 0rtant •t*ten.ent to . Georgian reporter. 'W, 

announced! WBiatrit^, ^X*u™lZTZ 


Shave eliminated John Gantt and Arthur Mullinax. 

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Competing newspapers in Atlanta devoted huge 
headlines and extra editions to covering Mary 
Phagan's death and the search for her murderer. 

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he concluded that Leo had planted the bloody shirt in the watchman's 
room for the police to find. 

Flushed with certainty that his hunch about Leo Frank was 
proving correct, Black hurried from Lees apartment to the station 
house to place the bloody shirt into evidence. Then he informed 
reporters that he had a big break in the case at last. He rushed to 
the factory where the superintendent was trying to get production 
back to normal, burst into the superintendents office and proved 
the Constitution right by arresting Leo Frank for the murder of 
Mary Phagan. 

Leo could not believe it. Looking around his office for something 
normal he could take with him, he saw a box of cigars. A heavy 
smoker, Leo grabbed a handful of them and stuffed them in his 
pocket. Perhaps he needed something to remind him that he was an 
ordinary, innocent citizen as Black triumphantly led him to the police 
station and confronted him with a piece of the bloody shirt. 

Confused, Leo thought they were asking him if the material came 
from a shirt of his. He said he'd never owned a shirt like that. While 
police questioned Leo, his lawyer Luther Rosser sped to the station, 
only to be turned away. People had gathered outside, and an officer 
stood on the stairs, under orders not to let the crowd interrupt the 
interrogation. Furious, Rosser had to telephone the chief, demanding 



to be admitted. As soon as he got upstairs, he upbraided Chief 
Beavers for trying to keep a lawyer away from his client and then 
stormed into the interrogation room. 

Leo was being questioned by Detective Black — in the presence of 
Pinkerton detective Harry Scott, who had been put in charge of the 
National Pencil Company's case. In fact, when Rosser appeared, Black 
let the Pinkerton detective take over the interrogation. 

Leo had hired Pinkertons to protect the reputation of his 
company. Now one of them was helping the police build a case 
against him! Leo was unaware that Pinkerton detectives often worked 
closely with the police on their cases. And he certainly hadn't known 
that Detective Scott had previously worked closely with Detective 

Angry, Leo pointed out, "You were hired by me, if you 

To Leo's surprise, Scott replied, "I was put on the case by my 
superiors. They were employed to catch the murderer. . . . If you are 
the murderer, then its my duty to convict you." 

While Leo was being interrogated, his wife hurried to the police 
station with her father and her brother-in-law. The same police officer 
who tried to keep Luther Rosser out of the station successfully kept 
Lucille away from her husband. In the lobby office, crowded by 
aggressive reporters, Lucille insisted that Leo was innocent and then 
broke down sobbing. 

When Leo heard that his wife was downstairs, in tears, he sent a 
message telling her to go home, assuring her that he would soon be 
freed. Lucille left, admitting that she "was humiliated and distressed 
by numerous people, maybe newspaper reporters, maybe somebody 
else, snapshotting me with hand cameras." 

Soon Atlanta erupted with rumors that Lucille had never come 
to visit Leo because she knew he was guilty, that she had been in the 
process of divorcing him at the time of Mary's murder, and that only 
large sums of money had persuaded her to stay by his side. Later, 
Lucille would write to the editor of the Augusta Chronicle, desperate 
to expose "that falsehood about my conduct toward the one whom I 
loved more dearly than my own life, whom I yet love, thank God." 


She explained: 

/ went to the police station and begged to see him. Think 
of the tender solicitude for me in begging me not to come 
to his cell. He knew he tuas innocent; I knew he was 
innocent; he expected to be out without delay; he didnt 
ivant me to see him behind bars. Because he considered 
me, even above himself he had to bear the burden of 
lies, and I had to bear them. Not a day passed after he 
was taken from home that we did not talk to each other. 
His concern was always for me. "Dont come doiun here, 
dear }> he would s ay y "I dont want you to remember 
having seen me in this place. " 

After sending his wife home, Leo's ordeal was far from over. Police 
had been interrogating Newt Lee, and they decided to put the two 
men together. Just as Leo was about to lie down on the cot in his 
cell that night, Black and Scott asked him to talk to Newt Lee. They 
claimed they wanted him to get the watchman to admit his guilt, and 
Leo agreed. He remembered Black telling him to tell Lee "that you 
are here and that he is here and that he better open up and tell all he 
knows about the happenings at the pencil factory that Saturday night, 
or you will both go to hell." 

Leo entered the interrogation room and did as requested, but Lee 
insisted he knew nothing to "open up" about. Both Detective Black 
and Pinkerton detective Scott listened outside the door as the two 
men talked. Leo used Blacks words — but later Black insisted he never 
told Leo what to say. Scott noticed that Leo was clearly nervous and 
uncomfortable talking to the watchman. "He was very squirmy in 
his chair/' the Pinkerton detective recalled, "crossing one leg after the 
other and didn't know where to put his hands; he was moving them 
up and down his face, and he hung his head a great deal of the time 
the negro was talking." 

Leo had reason to become a good deal more "squirmy" soon. As 
he was led out of the interrogation room, Leo recalled, Scott and 
Black went in, "and then began questioning Newt Lee, and then it 


was that I had my first initiation into the third degree of the Atlanta 
police department. The way that fellow Black cursed at that poor 
old Negro, Newt Lee, was something awful. He shrieked at him, he 
hollered at him, he cursed him, and did everything but beat him." 
Before this, Leo had believed that cooperating with the police would 
help them find the real killer and free him. Now he feared it might 
not work that way 

Newt Lees continued protestations of innocence under their 
aggressive questioning convinced both detectives that the night 
watchman was not guilty of the murder of Mary Phagan. They were 
equally certain that Leo Frank was the killer. And they could sense that 
the citizens of Atlanta shared this opinion. Later, the pastor of Marys 
Baptist church wrote to a friend, "My feelings, upon the arrest of the 
old negro watchman, were to the effect that this one old negro would 
be poor atonement for the life of this innocent girl. But, when on the 
next day, the police arrested a Jew, and a Yankee Jew at that, all of the 
inborn prejudice against Jews rose up in a feeling of satisfaction, that 
here would be a victim worthy to pay for the crime." 

First, however, the legal process had to be observed. A coroner's 
inquest had to officially determine the cause of Mary Phagans death 
before the case could be turned over to Solicitor General Hugh Dorsey 
to prosecute the villain. But for that prosecution to be successful, the 
police and Dorsey still needed one thing: a motive for the killing. 



Fifteen-year-old George Epps waited impatiently through the first 
part of the coroners inquest on Wednesday, April 30. The newsboy 
was eager to testify about seeing Mary on the streetcar the day she 
was killed. What he had to tell the coroner about a possible motive in 
Mary's death would shock Atlanta. 

A coroner s inquest is a court proceeding to determine the cause 
of death. Before anyone can be charged with murder, an officer 
of the court called a coroner must determine whether the victim 

died of natural causes, accidental 
causes, or foul play. Coroner Paul 
Donehoo had six jurors to help 
him weigh the evidence and settle 
on a verdict. 

The inquest opened with 
statements from the police officers 
who had first seen Marys body in 
the factory basement. Then Newt 
Lee testified about finding the body 
and calling the police, followed by 
several factory employees. So far 
the inquest was going as expected. 
Donehoo was a highly respected 
officer of the court, one who the 
people of Atlanta believed brought 
unusual meaning to the claim 


"Justice is blind." Paul Donehoo was, indeed, blind. Many people 
thought his inability to see witnesses helped him do his job, because 
he listened more carefully. 

Donehoo certainly listened carefully to George Epps when the 
teenager took the stand. George stated that he had ridden on the 
streetcar with Mary the morning of her death and made a date to 
watch the parade with her and then go to a movie — after she picked 
up her pay. Then George announced that the idea of going into the 
factory to get her pay had frightened Mary, because Leo Frank would 
be there. 

"When she would leave the factory on some afternoons, she said, 
Frank would rush out in front of her and try to flirt with her as she 
passed. She told me that he had often winked at her and tried to pay 
her attention. He would look hard and straight at her, she said, and 
then would smile. It happened often, she said." George added, "She 
told me she wanted me to come down to the factory when she got off 
as often as I could to escort her home and kinder protect her." 

This testimony supported the deep-seated resentment so many 
members of Atlanta's working class felt against northern industrialists. 
These Yankees had dragged families away from their farms where 
their daughters were safe and plunged them into city life where 
young girls had to go to work and risk unwanted sexual advances 
from bosses or coworkers. When people read the newspaper headlines 
accusing Leo Frank of flirting with Mary, they were both outraged 
and titillated. They wanted to hear more about what went on inside 
this factoiy. 

At first, so did the coroner. The solicitor general, making the 
case against Leo for the State of Georgia, had subpoenaed many of 
Marys fellow employees to testify. But the more Donehoo considered 
Georges testimony and what the other employees might say, the 
more he feared the inquest was moving too fast. After meeting with 
chiefs Lanford and Beavers, he adjourned the inquest for a few days. 
That would allow public outrage to settle down and let the police 
investigation proceed. 

While the police continued their investigation, so did the 
Pinkerton detectives under Harry Scott. In fact, Scott and Black 


concentrated their efforts by investigating together. The Pinkertons 
might have originally been hired by Leo, but they were no longer 
investigating the case without bias. They were now working with the 
police specifically to find evidence that would keep their employer 
behind bars. In fact, Detective Scott told his fellow Pinkertons, 
"Unless the Jew is convicted, the Pinkerton Detective Agency [will] 
have to get out of Atlanta." 

When the inquest resumed on Monday May 5, Leo took the 
stand. Donehoo wanted to get a sense of the superintendents 
character. Unlike the shivering, nervous man who had made police 
so suspicious, the witness who answered the coroners questions was 
well dressed and presented a calm, articulate face to jurors and even to 
reporters. Leo repeated his account of an ordinary work Saturday: he 
had gotten to his office early; met with his department heads; put the 
office boy Alonzo Mann, to work; collected the mail; dictated some 
letters to his stenographer; spoke to several employees who had come 
in; seen the office boy and stenographer leave; and given a girl her pay 
envelope shortly after noon. 

Then he had done some paperwork; locked up for lunch while 
several men continued to work in the factory; eaten lunch with his 
father-in-law; and walked through town, greeting several employees 
who were in the crowd watching the parade. He returned to work 
after deciding not to attend the afternoon baseball game because of 
rainy weather and then went home to a quiet evening with his family 
From the house, he had telephoned night watchman Newt Lee, since 
the man had only started working for the company two weeks earlier. 
It was all routine activity, but it left almost an hour unaccounted for 
between when he paid Mary and when he left for lunch, with no 
witnesses to confirm that he was working in his office. The police were 
convinced that Mary Phagan had been murdered during that hour. 

After nearly four hours of testimony, Donehoo asked if Leo 
would like to add anything else about the day. Unexpectedly Leo 
said that one of the plant foremen, Lemmie Quinn, had visited him 
a few minutes after he had paid the girl. Leo had not mentioned 
this previously, but it gave him an alibi for what had looked like 
unaccounted-for time. 


The coroner was astounded that he could have forgotten 
something so important, but Leo simply said that speaking with 
Quinn had slipped his mind until Quinn had mentioned it on 
Monday, a week ago. Leo chose not to reveal that his lawyers had 
advised him to save the information for the inquest and say nothing 
to the police about it, advice he agreed with after seeing the police 
in action with Newt Lee. To reporters, Quinn confirmed that he 
had spoken with Leo in his office. Newspapers printed new editions 
proclaiming "Leo Frank Innocent." 

Despite the favorable impact of Leo's testimony, considerable 
evidence had materialized that made Leo look like a sexual predator 
who lusted after the young girls he employed. A streetcar conductor 
found a suspicious note tucked under one of the seats in the same car 
that Mary had ridden on Saturday. The note claimed that Leo Frank 
had made numerous sexual advances to Mary. Police asked Helen 
Ferguson, Mary's friend, to look at the note, which claimed that Mary 
had told the writer that Leo Frank had put his arm around her and 
asked if she "wanted to take a joy ride to Heaven." The note claimed 
that Mary had asked how, and Frank had promised to show her 
someday. It was signed "A 13-year-old chum of Mary." When Helen 
read the note, she immediately recognized the handwriting and told 
police that the letter had actually been written by Grace Hicks, the 
seventeen-year-old girl who had identified the body 

The idea that something was going on with the factory girls may 
have had its basis in fact. Helen told Pinkerton agent L. P. Whitfield, 
"I have not seen any misconduct at the factory lately but there used 
to be misconduct during the dinner hour among some of the girl and 
boy employees. I have never seen anything myself in this connection 
but have heard of same. Mr. Frank heard of the improper conduct 
and he endeavored to stop the boys and girls from being together 
during the dinner hour." 

Some of the girls who were interviewed wanted people to think 
they knew more than they did. Helen also reported, "Grace Hicks was 
at my house on April 27th, 1913 and she stated that she would tell all 
she knew about the murder of Mary Phagan, but that she was afraid 
that the negro Newt Lee, would get out of jail and kill her." 


The factory workers who did testify at the inquest were even more 
outspoken. Fourteen-year-old Nellie Pettis's sister-in-law used to work 
at the factory, and Nellie had seen Leo a few times. She testified, "I 
went into the office of Mr. Frank, I asked him for her. He told me I 
couldn't see her unless I 'saw' him first. I told him I didn't want to c see 
him.' He pulled a box from his desk. It had a lot of money in it. He 
looked at it significantly and then looked at me. When he looked at 
me, he winked. And as he winked he said: 'How about it?' I instantly 
told him I was a nice girl." 

Another Nellie, sixteen-year-old Nellie Wood, had worked at the 
factory herself and testified that Leo "asked me one day to come into 
his office saying that he wanted to talk to me. He tried to close the 
door, but I wouldn't let him. He got too familiar by getting so close to 
me. He also put his hands on me." 

When the coroner asked where Leo had put his hands, the 
girl said, "He barely touched my breast. He was subtle with his 
approaches and tried to pretend that he was joking, but I was too 
wary for such as that." 

Some workers were unwilling to testify. A tipster pointed out 
two men, Ely Burdett and James Gresham, who had "informed 
him that Frank had been familiar with several of the girl 
employees and that they were afraid to testify against Mr. Frank." 
Another factory employee seemed conflicted in his testimony 
when he stated, "I have never seen Mr. Frank do anything 
unbecoming to a gentleman, except at times when talking to some 
of the women employees, it seemed to me that he rubbed up 
against them a little too much." 

Former worker Tom Blackstock testified, "I've often seen him 
picking on different girls," also saying that the superintendent 
would "rub up against" the girls. This was a phrase that a number 
of the men who worked in the factory repeated word-for-word. The 
inquest's jury had to wonder: was this a coincidence, or had they 
been coached? 

Although Leo's testimony made a good impression, the damage 
to his character was done by the end of the inquest. Thanks to the 
sensational newspaper coverage, the people of Atlanta viewed him as a 


Yankee Jew who had not only forced industrialization upon them and 
forced their daughters into his factory but who had also attempted to 
force himself upon those daughters. The inquests jury came in with 
these preconceived notions, and it took them only ten minutes to 
recommend that the police hold Leo Frank, along with Newt Lee, for 
further questioning in the murder of Mary Phagan. 



Recommending further questioning was one thing. Finding answers 
that would lead a grand jury to formally charge, or indict, either Leo 
Frank or Newt Lee for murder was another. Before a suspect could 
be tried for a crime in a court of law, a grand jury must be presented 
with enough information to indict him. That job fell to Solicitor 
General Hugh Dorsey. 

As Atlanta's prosecutor, Dorsey s job was to prosecute and 
convict the accused. Although Dorsey was an ambitious lawyer 
and politician, he had been remarkably unsuccessful in prosecuting 
several major cases. He needed a big, public success to bolster 
his career, and prosecuting the murder of an innocent young girl 
seemed the perfect opportunity. 

Born in a small town, yet raised in the city, Dorsey was capable 
of acting like a country boy with ordinary working folks or 
behaving like a shrewdly calculating gentleman in the company of 
other city lawyers. Dorsey seized authority for the murder case as 
soon as he could, by ordering the exhumation and autopsy of Mary 
Phagan himself. 

Coroner Paul Donehoo, Dr. Henry Harris, and Fulton County 
physician J. W. Hurt inspected Marys body after it was removed 
from the grave. Dr. Harris paid particular attention to her stomach 
contents, as this would help him determine the time of death more 
accurately Dorsey also ordered the city chemist, Dr. Claude Smith, 
to test the shirt from Newt Lees apartment and the bloodstains that 
Robert Barrett had found in the factory metaJ shop. 


Prosecutor Hugh Dorsey in 1913, 
after the murder of Mary Phagan. 

Then Dorsey surprised everyone 
by ordering a second exhumation of 
Marys body two days later and blaming 
it on police carelessness. Apparently, Dr. 
Hurt had originally taken hair samples 
from Mary's body, but they had been 
lost while in police possession. This 
time, a fingerprint expert was called in 
to examine the fingerprints on Mary's 
throat. Forensic scientists also took 
photographs of the bite marks on the 
girl's left shoulder. 

Dorsey quickly began releasing new information to the press. 
Examining other factory workers than the ones who had testified at 
the coroners inquest, he found fourteen-year-old Monteen Stover, 
who used to work at the factory and still had some pay coming to 
her. She said she had gone to the pencil factory a little after twelve 
that Saturday, shortly after the time Mary Phagan would have picked 
up her pay. "I was sure Mr. Frank would be in his office," Monteen 
told reporters after speaking with Hugh Dorsey, "so I stepped in. He 
wasn't in the outer office, so I stepped into the inner one. He wasn't 
there either. I thought he might have been somewhere around the 
building, so I waited. When he didn't show up in a few minutes, 
I went to the door and peered further down the floor among the 
machinery I couldn't see him there." 

Despite Lemmie Quinn's insistence that Leo had been in his 
office, Monteen's statement suggested that the superintendent had 
not been there the whole time. Then Mrs. Nina Formby, a madam 
of a nearby house of prostitution, claimed that Leo was a regular 
customer — and that he had called her on Confederate Memorial 
Day, asking for a place to bring a young girl who'd been taken ill. 
Mrs. Formby shared her story with the press and even claimed that 
she was being bribed to keep quiet or leave town until the trial 
was over. 

More evidence poured in. Dorsey 's handwriting expert stated 
that the murder notes could not have been written by Newt Lee. 




VOL XLV.-NV 8». 

■•.n.AM'A, (I\. IMIMV MOKMS*;, MAT '', 1913.— FOT7BXEE5 PAQS& 






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Bound Over For Phagar, Murder | FRANK AND LEE ORDERED 


Sensational Statements Made at hiqnesl by Two 
Women. One- of Whom Had Been on Em- 
ployee. Who Declared Thai FranJfc Had Been 
Onilty of Iniriteper Conduct Toward Hi* 
Feminine Kmplnycc-s and Had Wade Pro- 
posals to Them in the Factory. 

evidence ix baffling mystery 


Frank and Lee Both Go on Stand Again and An' 
Closely Questioned in Regard to N'cw Lines 
of Evidence m\d Forced to Hcileratc Testi- 
mony Formerly Made lo Coroner's .lnr\. 
They Will Hemnin in Jail Pending Action of 
I he Grand Jury. 

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»nd Howl 1*3 :hc r.cjm nit hi vv '"'" ' ■ ■ ' '■' «&* M«J 

[/>(» Morgan Sailed to Death 
j He Pledged Waodrow Wilson 
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1 1 

The murder remained front page news for weeks, and much of the coverage was sensational. 
In this front page of the Atlanta Constitution from May 9, 1913, the paper announces that Leo 
Frank would go before a grand jury in the case of Mary Phagan's murder. This put Frank in the 
sights of prosecutor Hugh Dorsey. who would prove to be a master at manipulating the press. 

This supported Dorseys contention that Leo had committed the 
crime and the night watchman had done nothing except discover the 
body. Dorsey believed that Leo had often used his status as factory 
superintendent to get his way with his young female employees and 
that things had gone wrong with Mary Phagan, leading to violence. 
However, the evidence that lawyers are allowed to introduce is limited 
by rules of procedure. Dorsey knew these rules would prevent him 
from introducing the idea of sexual misconduct, unless the defense 
first introduced the issue of the superintendents character. So he 
decided to force Leo's attorneys to defend their clients character 
by letting the press run with the rumors about Leos promiscuous 
activities. Meanwhile, Dorsey focused on a timeline of circumstantial 
evidence that would put Leo out of his office and unaccounted for at 
the time when Mary was killed. 

On May 23> 1913, Dorsey convinced the grand jury to indict Leo 
Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan. He did so without revealing 
that he had an eyewitness who would be able to describe exactly 
where Leo was when Mary was killed and how the body ended up in 
the factory basement. 




Dorsey s eyewitness was Jim Conley. Conley, twenty-seven, was a 

sweeper and odd-jobs man at the factory He had a drinking problem 

and lived with a woman he had never married. He was also black. 

In the eyes of the white Atlanta society of 1913, Conley should have 

been a prime suspect. He 

had been in trouble with 

the law before and had paid 

several fines and served 

two sentences on the chain 

gang, once for attempted 

armed robbery. But Dorsey, 

as well as the police, 

wanted someone other 

than an African American 

working man to be guilty 

of the death of a white girl 

who had been murdered in 

a factory They wanted to 

convict a white man — and 

a Yankee industrialist — of 

this horrendous crime. 

Jim Gonley from 1914, after the 
murder of Mary Phagan. 


Police had originally questioned Jim Conley about Mary 
Phagan's death on May 1. He had been seen rinsing out a stained 
shirt at the factory but had claimed he was trying to wash out rust 
stains. Police had never tested the shirt for blood because Conley 
also said he'd been drunk all day Saturday, when Mary was killed, 
and hadn't been near the factory. And he claimed he couldn't read or 
write, which meant he couldn't have written the two notes found by 
Marys body. 

Then Pinkerton agents discovered that witnesses had seen a 
black man lurking around the factory lobby on Saturday Detective 
Black and Pinkerton detective Scott found Jim Conley s signatures 
on several papers. They compared them with the murder notes and 
believed the handwriting to be the same. Apparently the man could 
write. They brought him in again for questioning. 

Confronted with his signatures, Conley admitted that he could 
write but insisted that he had nothing to do with the murder notes. 
The detectives decided to lock him in an isolation cell to let him 
think about it. There is no police record showing what Black and 
Scott said to him, but on May 24, Conley was ready to make a 
new statement to the police, the Pinkerton investigators, and Hugh 
Dorsey. It was a completely different statement — one that implicated 
Leo Frank. 

Jim Conley claimed that on Friday, April 25, Frank "asked me 
could I write and I told him yes I could write a little bit." Then 
Conley said the superintendent had dictated the two letters that 
had been found near Marys body and had given Conley a box 
of cigarettes and $2.50. Conley stated, "He told me he had some 
wealthy people in Brooklyn and then he held his head up and looking 
out of the corner of his eyes said, 'Why should I hang?'" 

Initially, the investigators were confused by Conley's statement, 
because it suggested that Leo had planned the murder the day before 
and had prepared the notes in advance. Yet Dorsey was convinced it 
had been a crime of passion. And if Conley was speaking the truth, 
why had he waited so long to come forward? Pinkerton detective 
Scott later said, "We pointed out to him why the first statement 
would not fit. We told him we wanted another statement." 


Several days later, Conley asked to speak with Detective Black. 
This time he admitted that he'd made several mistakes the first time. 
"I made this statement in regard to Friday, in order that I might not 
be accused of knowing anything of this murder, for I thought that 
if I put myself there on Saturday, they might accuse me of having a 
hand in it," he explained. Then he went on to say that on Saturday 
the superintendent had asked him to sit by the entrance steps until 
Conley heard him whistle. When he heard the summons, Conley 
went up to Franks office and found his boss very nervous and upset. 
Conley said he then wrote the notes at Leo's dictation, not knowing 
anything about the murder, and had received the cigarettes and 
money, as he'd said before. 

This second affidavit was more useful to the prosecution, because 
it confirmed much of their theory of Leo's actions on Saturday. 
However, the press quickly pointed out that Conley s shifting story 
implicated himself. Many thought he should be indicted instead of 
Leo Frank. 

The authorities wished that Conley s statement pinned the 
murder more clearly on Leo's shoulders, so police interrogated the 
man one more time. Dorsey wasn't present, but his assistant raced 
back and forth, bringing new questions for the sweeper and carrying 
his answers back to the solicitor general. This time Conley 's affidavit 
was what the prosecution needed. He combined his previous stories 
with new details: 

When he whistled for me I went upstairs and he asked 
me if I wanted to make some money right quick and I 
told him "Yes, sir, " and he told me that he had picked up 
a girl back there and had let her fall and that her head 
hit against something, he didnt know what it was, and 
for me to jnove her, and I hollered and told him the girl 
was dead, and he told me to pick her up and bring her to 
the elevator. 

Then he described how he had tried to carry the girl, but she 
proved too heavy for him to manage alone, so the superintendent 


had helped him carry her onto the elevator and then down to the 

After Conley wrote the notes from dictation, 

Mr. Frank looked at it and said it was all right and Mr 
Frank looked up at the top of the house and said, "Why 
should I hang, I have wealthy people in Brooklyn, " and 
I asked him ivhat about me, and he told me that ivas all 
right about me, for me to keep my mouth shut and he 
would make everything all right, and then I asked him 
where was the money he said he was going to give me and 
Mr Frank said, "Here is two hundred dollars, " and he 
handed me a big roll of greenback money. 

Later, Conley added that the superintendent had asked for the money 
back and said he would give it back on Monday if nothing happened. 
This was what Dorsey had been looking for: eyewitness testimony 
that proved Leo Franks guilt. The police took Conley to the factory, 
sent most of the workers home, and had him show them and a 
group of reporters where all the action of his affidavit had occurred. 
Repeating his story, Conley led them through the factory, acting out 
the events as he described them. One of the employees who remained, 
the day watchman J. M. Holloway, pointed out that the police often 
corrected Conley If he said the body was in one place, at times they 
reminded him it was in a different location: 

The negro said "lets go back this way", and he shows 
them a place about 20 feet the other way, and Lanford 
said "Here is where they dropped it". Now they said 
"aint this about where you dropped the girl"? and the 
negro, he started in another direction, and then he said 
"yes sir". They said "aint this where you dropped it"? and 
he said "yes ". 

But the next editions of the newspapers all praised Jim Conley for 
coming forward and presented his evidence as absolute truth. 


Conley continued introducing new details to flesh out his story for 
the reporters who crowded around his jail cell. Dorsey was pleased to 
have his witness, but he was afraid that Conley would say something 
to contradict his latest statement (which already contradicted his two 
earlier statements) and damage the case against Leo Frank. 

Then the Georgian announced that an unnamed man had been 
shooting craps with Conley in the pencil factory basement on April 26 
and had seen Jim Conley himself attack Mary Phagan. The Georgian 
would subsequently identify this witness as Will Green, an African 
American carnival worker. "This fellow was half drunk and was losing 
money to me. He got mad and cursed his luck," said Green. 

Before long a little girl went upstairs. This negro said he 
was going to take her money away from her when she 
came down. I thought he was fooling at first, but when 
she came down he started for her. I yelled at him not 
to do it, but he kept right on. Then I skipped out, for I 

didnt want to get mixed 
up in any trouble. I stayed 
around town until the next 
Monday, and then I read 
all about how a little girl 
had been killed . . . and I 
knew that she was the one I 
had seen come downstairs at 
the factory 

Investigators were unable 
to find the carnival worker and 
bring him to Atlanta. This was 
good news for Hugh Dorsey, as 
it could have damaged his case. 
He didn't want Conley attracting 
any more press attention. He met 
with Chief Lanford and William 
Smith, Conley's attorney. (Smith 



was being paid by the Atlanta Georgian to represent Jim Conley and 
to give the paper the inside scoop.) They all agreed that it would 
be a good idea to return Conley to the police station until the trial, 
where reporters — and other lawyers — could only speak to him with 
Smiths or Lanfords approval. 

Leo's attorneys, however, worked to stir up public opinion to 
bring pressure on the State of Georgia to ask the grand jury to indict 
Jim Conley for Marys murder. Dorsey resisted strongly, insisting that 
they had already indicted one man for the crime and should wait 
until his trial was over before considering any other indictments. In 
the end> he allowed the grand jury to hear charges against Conley, 
but Dorsey spoke persuasively to them for an hour, expressing 
his confidence in his case against Leo Frank and explaining why 
Conley s indictment would jeopardize it. The grand jury voted almost 
immediately not to indict Conley. 

That left Dorsey free to construct the rest of his case against 
Leo Frank. 




Even before the trial began, George Epps felt a little concerned. 
There was something about his testimony that the newsboy wanted 
to discuss with Hugh Dorsey. But George would later say that 
Dorsey didn't want to hear him, snapping, "Just stick to that." He 
understood that the solicitor general wanted him to simply repeat 
his testimony from the inquest, even if he was uncomfortable with 
some part of it. 

George wasn't the only person who got a glimpse of Dorsey 's 
darker side during the days before the trial. The solicitor general 
summoned numerous potential witnesses to his office, ordering them 
to be arrested if they did not come willingly He intended to use not 
only Leo Frank's teenage employees to prove his case but also anyone 
who was close to Leo's family. 

One of those people was Minola McKnight, the cook in the 
house Leo and Lucille Frank shared with Lucille's parents, the Seligs. 
Dorsey needed her testimony to support the timeline he was carefully 
constructing, a timeline that would leave enough time for Leo to have 
committed the murder before meeting his father-in-law for lunch. To 
do that, he wanted to prove that Leo had actually arrived home later 
than he claimed. 

Hearing about the rewards offered by the newspapers, Albert 
McKnight had told his boss that his wife had information that could 
help the prosecution, and his boss passed the tip on to the police. But 
when they questioned Minola, she told them the same story that Leo 
had told, that he had arrived home at 1:20 and had lunch with his 


father-in-law because the two ladies had already eaten and were on 
their way to an opera matinee. 

That wasn't what Dorsey hoped to hear. The police called in her 
husband to "remind" her, but Minola McKnight wouldn't change her 
story. She even claimed that she and Albert had recently quarreled 
and suggested that he was lying to get back at her. So the police 
locked Minola in jail overnight and began grilling the hysterical 
woman again the following morning. Dorsey probably could not have 
gotten away with handling most witnesses this way, even a working- 
class woman, but Minola McKnight was African American. He had 
no problem ignoring her rights with impunity. 

Desperate to be released, she finally signed a statement that said 
Leo had gotten home at 1:20 but had rushed out again without 
eating and when he came home that evening, he drank heavily and 
was too upset to sleep. He told his wife, who then told Minola, that 
"he was in trouble, that he didn't know the reason why he would 
murder, and he told his wife to get his pistol and let him kill himself." 
The statement also said that her employers had started paying her 
extra after hearing that the solicitor general wanted to question her. 
"They just said, 'Here is $5, Minola,' but of course I understood what 
they meant even if they didnt tell me anything ... I understood it 
was a tip for me to keep quiet." 

After Minola signed this statement, the police released her. Chief 
Lanford proudly told the press about their new evidence against Leo 
Frank. But when a reporter from the Georgian questioned her about 
her statement, Minola McKnight told him bitterly, "It's most all a 
pack of lies." 

Furious at the way her family's employee had been treated, Lucille 
expressed her outrage publicly even though Leo's attorneys urged her 
to remain silent. She wrote an open letter to Atlanta's citizens that was 
published in the three main newspapers: 

That the Solicitor, sworn to maintain the law, should 
thus falsely arrest one against whom he has no charge 
and whom he does not even suspect and torture her, 
contrary to the laws, to force her to give evidence tending 


to swear away the life of an innocent man, is beyond 

Where will this end? My husband and my family and 
myself are the innocent sufferers now, but who will be the 
next to suffer? . . . 

This torturing process can be used to produce testimony 
to be published in the newspapers to prejudice the case of 
anyone the Solicitor sees fit to accuse. 

Dorsey sidestepped the charges, pointing out "the wife of a 
man accused of crime would probably be the last person to learn 
all of the facts establishing his guilt, and certainly would be the last 
person to admit his culpability," and saying it was his duty to find 
evidence that would convict someone who had been indicted by the 
grand jury. 

The solicitor general also distracted attention from his misconduct 
by attacking the police for leaking Minolas affidavit in the first 
place and threatening to ask the grand jury to investigate the police 
department. Wanting to avoid such an inspection, Chief Lanford 
ordered his men to stop sharing details of the case with the press. 

Dorsey got the testimony he wanted from some witnesses by 
simply offering a willing ear. This tactic appealed particularly to the 
factory girls, who were excited at the idea that all of Atlanta would 
listen to them. It also worked with some of the factory boys. Another 
witness told Dorsey that sixteen-year-old Willie Turner had seen Leo 
Frank and Mary Phagan having a conversation together that suggested 
the man was making advances and the girl was afraid of him. 

Although Willie believed that the girl and his boss had run 
into each other accidentally, Dorsey repeatedly had him act out 
the encounter to emphasize that Mary backed away from the 
superintendent. He tried to persuade the boy to testify that Leo 
Franks hands were extended, as if he were trying to grab Mary, 
although Willie would only go so far in this direction. 

When Dorsey couldn't persuade witnesses to testify the way he 
wanted, he was not above bribing or coercing them. Sixteen-year-old 
Dewey Hewell, who had worked at the pencil factory, experienced 


both. Dorsey tracked her down at the Home of the Good Shepherd 
in Cincinnati, Ohio, a group home for unwed mothers where Dewey 
was in custody. Dorsey contacted Police Matron Mary Bohnefield 
and informed her that he believed Dewey could testify about Leos 
interest in Mary Dewey later stated in a sworn deposition that she 
had been afraid of Bohnefield "and that she was afraid to refuse to 
testify exactly the way the Police Matron wanted her to." She said that 
she was promised that she would be released from the group home if 
she testified against Leo. 

At the same time Dorsey was preparing his witnesses, Leo s 
lawyers were preparing their defense. Reuben Arnold had joined the 
team of Luther Rosser and Herbert Haas. An expert in evaluating 
medical evidence and a smooth talker with an encyclopedic 
knowledge of the law, Arnold balanced 
Rosser's vigorous oratory style. The first 
thing the legal team did was instruct 
Leo to keep silent. They didn't want 
him giving interviews — perhaps because 
he was so cool and detail-oriented 
and that attitude hadn't made a good 
impression on reporters or perhaps 
because they simply wanted to keep 
their strategy to themselves. Either way, 
the press didn't like it. Reporters took 
to calling Leo "the silent man in the 
Tower," referring to his cell in the tower 
of the station house. 

Arnold s and Rosser s strategy 
was to prove Leos innocence by 
convincing the jury that Jim Conley 

was solely responsible for the murder and to undercut all claims 
of sexual interest in Mary by presenting Conley s motive as greed. 
They intended to argue that Conley tried to take the money from 
her pay envelope and when she resisted, he killed her for it. The 
attorneys found witnesses of their own at the factory to support 
this contention. Mary Pirk, forelady in the polishing department, 

Attorney Reuben Arnold during 
Leo Franks trial in 1913. 



told them, "[Jim Conley] borrowed money from me every week. 
Sometimes he wouldn't pay me, and I would come in the office and 
get it." 

Other factory girls would confirm Mary Pirk's testimony about 
Conley s habit of borrowing money from them. They also said that 
he behaved strangely on the Monday after the murder. And police 
had never found Marys silver mesh purse, further evidence that her 
murder had been the result of robbery gone bad. 

The defense also had a witness who claimed that Jim Conley 
had confessed to the murder. William Mincey was an insurance 
agent for American Life. He was also a white man, so the attorneys 
were confident that his race would make him believable, especially 
to the all-white jury they expected to get. After watching the 
Confederate Memorial Day parade, Mincey had gone back to 
selling insurance door to door. He'd seen a man who identified 
himself as Jim Conley and tried to sell the man some insurance, 
but Conley was nervous and almost incoherent. He told Mincey 
to come back the following week, but when Mincey pressed him, 
Conley said he was in trouble and expected to be in jail soon. The 
insurance agent asked what for, and Conley replied, "Murder, I 
killed a girl today." 

Mincey asked why, and Conley got angry "That is for me to 
know and you to find out," he snapped. Mincey tried to get more 
information and started to come closer, offering to write the mans 
insurance application right then. But Conley jumped up and backed 
away, saying, "I have killed one today and I don't want to kill 

When he read about Mary's murder, Mincey went to the factory, 
but things were so hectic that day watchman Holloway turned him 
away. Mincey said he'd gone to the police station right after Conley 
had been arrested and been allowed to see him, but Conley claimed 
he didn't remember Mincey or the conversation. Then Mincey 
wrote to Dorsey about the meeting but never got a reply, so he 
contacted Rosser. The defense team found several women who had 
heard the men's conversation on Confederate Memorial Day and 
agreed to testify. 


Leo's attorneys also planned to use medical experts to show that 
Mary Phagan could well have been killed later than Dorsey claimed, 
while Leo was outside the factory building. At this point, Arnold and 
Rosser felt well prepared to go to trial They believed that all Dorsey 
had was a distorted timeline and an eyewitness who was lying to protect 
himself The defense was confident that a jury would compare the 
compelling evidence against Jim Conley with the weak circumstantial 
case against Leo and quickly declare him not guilty. 



As July 1913 drew to a close, many of the teenage factory employees 
were in a state of thrilled anxiety. Would Hugh Dorsey call them to 
the stand? Would all of Atlanta hear what they could tell? 

Temperatures topped one hundred degrees daily that July, and it 
looked as if heat might postpone the trial still longer. (Air conditioners 
were not yet used widely.) But Judge Leonard Roan wanted to proceed. 
Normally the trial would have been held in the Thrower Building because 
the new county courthouse was still under construction. But authorities 
anticipated large crowds for this trial. So they created a courtroom that 
would seat about 250 people out of a big room on the first floor of the 
old city hall. They installed fans and extra chairs beneath the electric 
chandeliers hanging from the tin ceiling and also a ventilating device 
called an ozonator. Unfortunately the ozonator didnt cool the room very 
well, so Judge Roan ordered the windows opened to bring in fresh air. 

The open windows also brought the overflow crowd that had 
gathered in the streets into the room. And while the judge could 
control the behavior of the people seated in his packed courtroom, 
he could do nothing about the crowd outside. People cheered, booed, 
and shouted at the witnesses, the lawyers, the judge, and even the 
jury. They threatened, "Hang that Jew, or we'll hang you!" Although 
the defense protested, Judge Roan simply asked the sheriff to find 
out who was making the noise. That did nothing to stop the crowd s 
commentary on the proceedings. 


Passions ran high in the 
courtroom as well. A Georgia 
general assemblyman who 
attended part of the trial recalled, 
"There was a thirst for the blood 
of Mary Phagan's murderer. So 
intense was this feeling that the 
very atmosphere in and about 
the courthouse was charged with 
the sulphurous fumes of anger. 
I was in the courthouse several 
times during the trial, and the 
spirit, the feeling, the thought of 
the crowd affected me. Without 
reason, I found myself prejudiced 
against Frank. Prejudiced, not 
from facts and testimony, but by 
popular belief and hostile feeling 
manifested by the crowd." 

Witnesses waited to testify 
in an upstairs room above the 
courtroom. The Atlanta Journal 
reported the crowd could see the 
factory girls at the open windows, 
laughing and chattering with one 
another, "Axe you subpoenaed? 
Isn t this a lark?" 

For those in the courtroom, 
it was anything but a lark. Hugh 
Dorsey knew he had to win 
this trial or say good-bye to his 

ambitions of climbing to higher political position. Judge Roan knew 
that this high-profile case would demand his careful rulings on the 
evidence or the verdict might be overturned on appeal. The twelve 
men on the jury knew from the crowd noise that all of Atlanta would 
be paying attention to their decision. 



M. II 1 


And Leo Frank, sitting at the defense table with his wife and 
his mother beside him, knew that his attorneys had to prove his 
innocence or he would lose his life. The penalty for murder in 1913 
Georgia was to be hanged by the neck until dead. Despite this terrible 
prospect, Leo seemed calm and collected as he entered the courtroom. 




■ A. Xi.Vl.-X>,. 51, 

ATLANTA, HA. WF.DNFSH.n MOItNIN'.!. ,\ri)IHT i.\ 1JM.I, -TV. i-.NTY I'Ai.bH. 




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Lower House Is Plunged 
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Much like modern TV news, Georgia newspapers tried to provide 
constant coverage to a public eager to hear any news of the trial. 

"I am glad the trial is about to begin after this long wait,'" he declared. 
"I have no fear. I am not only innocent of this crime, but I am 
innocent of any knowledge of it." For her part, Lucille sat close to her 
husband and glared steadily at the prosecutor with fury as he opened 
his case. 

Hugh Dorsey put Mary Phagan's mother on the stand first, 
reminding the jury that Mary had been a pretty, innocent young 
girl forced to work in a factory. Then he called George Epps, who 
boyishly leaped to the stand, barefoot. The judge ruled that George 
couldn't repeat what he claimed Mary told him on the streetcar, but 
George testified to the time he met Mary and the time he saw her 
go into the factory. When asked what time he'd finished selling his 
papers, he said he wasn't sure because he told time by the sun, and the 
sun had gone down by then. 

That statement gave Luther Rosser his cue for cross- 
examination — it had been a gray, rainy day that Saturday, with no 
sun. This would be his technique throughout the trial: to trip up 
witnesses on technical errors, implying their whole evidence was 
a lie because of those small lies. It was a reasonable strategy, but it 
was a calculated, rational approach that didn't take into account the 
passion of the crowd — or the passion of the jury. In contrast, Dorsey 
understood that the way to a jurys heart was to tell a story they could 
believe, because a convincing story cannot be refuted by fact. He 
wove a powerful tale that caught up both the jury and the crowd in 
its emotion. Rosser tried to make them think about the facts, but it 
was very difficult to make reason outweigh emotion. 

Newt Lee testified about finding the body and notifying the 
police — and about not being able to reach Leo Frank. He was 
followed on Tuesday and Wednesday by a string of police witnesses, 
including Pinkerton detective Scott and culminating in Detective 
John Black. Black, especially, presented all Leo's actions in as 
suspicious a light as possible, particularly his unwillingness to help 
with the investigation or even speak to police without his lawyers 
present after his arrest. 

Leo listened, his impassive expression masking his inner outrage. 
He knew he'd had good reason not to talk to detectives. "I knew that 


there would not be an action so trifling, that there was not an action 
so natural but that they would distort and twist it to be used against 
me/' he later explained, "and that there was not a word that I could 
utter that they would not deform and distort and use against me." 

Detective Blacks testimony was specific and detailed under the 
direct examination by Solicitor General Dorsey, but it dissolved into 
a repetition of "I don't know" when Luther Rosser took over on cross- 
examination. This prompted Rosser to demand at one point, "Why is 
it you recollect so well some things, and fail so badly in others?" Black 
had no answer. 

On Thursday fourteen-year-old Monteen Stover testified that 
she had come to the factory on April 26 to get her pay and that Leo 
Frank was not in his office, contradicting Leo's statement that he 
worked on paperwork after he paid Mary. Rosser was careful in his 
cross-examination of the girl, getting her to admit that she might 
not have seen Leo since the open safe door blocked her view. But he 
didn't want to appear bullying, and his polite questions couldn't shake 
her insistence that she hadn't paid attention to furniture or doors 
because she was looking for a person, not an object. 

Robert Barrett testified about the hair and blood he had found. 
Then the chemist, Dr. Claude Smith, testified that the chips of wood 
from the floor of the metal room were indeed stained with blood, 
although Rosser got him to admit that he couldn't identify the blood 
and it "might have come from a mouse." 

More medical evidence followed on Friday, with the appearance 
of Dr. Henry Harris, who had performed the autopsy on Mary 
Phagan. He testified that the blows to her face looked as if they 
had been made with a fist and that the condition of the bread and 
cabbage in her stomach indicated she had been killed only thirty or 
forty-five minutes after eating. Since Mary had eaten shortly before 
leaving home, that would put her time of death just after she entered 
the factory for her pay. 

But Dr. Harris's most surprising testimony was still to come. "I 
made an examination of the privates of Mary Phagan," he explained. 
"I found no spermatozoa. On the walls of the vagina there was 
evidence of violence of some kind . . . The dilation of the blood 


vessels indicated to me that the injury had been made in the vagina 
some little time before death. Perhaps ten to fifteen minutes." 

Dr. Harris had just stated that Mary Phagan appeared to have 
been raped by some object that did not leave any semen. In so doing, 
he laid the groundwork for Dorsey's plan to build on this implication 
to accuse Leo of being a pervert. 

But before the defense could cross-examine Dr. Harris, he 
complained he was too ill to continue, and Judge Roan excused him 
on the grounds that he would return as soon as he was able. When 
Dr. Harris did return to complete his testimony, he focused solely on 
the time of death, and Arnold was unable to shake the doctor's claims 
during his cross-examination. 

Setting up the main case against Leo, the prosecution proceeded 
to call a witness who had seen Jim Conley in the factory lobby 
the day Mary was killed. Dorsey ended the day by calling Albert 
McKnight. Even though his wife, Minola, had retracted her earlier 
statement, McKnight was still willing to testify in hopes of getting 
some of the reward money that had as yet gone unpaid. On cross- 
examination Rosser forced McKnight to reveal some of the details of 
his wife's mistreatment at the hands of the police, but he couldn't trip 
the man up on any of his own testimony. 

Sixteen-year-old Helen Ferguson eagerly took the stand on 
Saturday morning, wearing a pretty white dress with a bow at the 
neck. She testified that she had tried to pick up her close friend 
Mary's pay from Leo Frank on Friday, but he wouldn't give it to her. 
Helen told the jury that the superintendent said that Mary would get 
it on Saturday, implying that he intended to see the girl then. 

Dr. Hurt, the Fulton County medical examiner, reinforced 
Dr. Harris's testimony about the blows to Mary's face but was less 
convincing about the charge of rape, stating, "I discovered no violence 
to the [genital] parts." Reuben Arnold handled the cross-examination, 
getting the doctor to concede that the blood the police noted on her 
thighs might have simply been the girl's menstrual period. 

The trial almost ended at that point. After a break, Judge Roan 
came back into the courtroom carrying a copy of the Georgian. 
Jurors could clearly see the bright red headline about the case: 



AT1.A.\"T\. i.; \. THURSDAY MOi:\{\i;, \li,ivr iri. 1913. — FOUHTKEJJ PAGES 


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Opportunity to Deny Ctr- Suteroetiu M ; ,d,- by, 
WilMf-. r After Hi.- Slorv 
ToM ,„ jury on Tncd.y 




StaLe Renewed It, Piu> ■ Ai- 
l.t.i: »n 1-t.vA'S, Oi..i. r,; 
:- : .ly bMoraiut.wKlSoJnd 

Ten or fyfofo Girt* Wfca 
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Inti. Hrr -in- Kwji Wiii, 
I Girl WboH»d IV :i|;cifor | 
W4STWQ QF BSTnTfS \ the Drfetiie. ^ - 


— j Tl - Kr»nii trt»t Km eaten ■ i 

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at C pa, ?.< at I 
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Hew* Con By Bo 

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Comiauttl on Page Twttve, 

" •— ?rS 

5ei;en Witnesses Called by Solicitor Dorsey to Testify Against Prisoner 

As the prosecution closed its case, the newspapers kept up a steady supply of words and 
images about the trial. This front page from the August 21 Constitution featured photos of 
the teenage witnesses against Frank, making them local celebrities for a time. 

"STATE ADDS LINKS TO CHAIN." The defense called for a 
mistrial on the grounds that the headline could bias the jury and lead 
to an unfair verdict. Instead, the judge instructed the jury to disregard 
the headline. Even though the defense didn't feel this was adequate, 
they finally accepted the ruling since they expected to win the case. 

While the court was recessed for Sunday, Jim Conley s attorney, 
William Smith, prepared his client to testify the next day. He 
arranged for a shave and a haircut for Conley, and police officers 
cleaned the man up. Conley came into court on Monday morning 
in a new suit, looking tidy and respectable. He fleshed out his earlier 
(third) affidavit on the stand, introducing a code of stomps by which 
he was supposed to warn his boss that someone was coming. He also 
described previous encounters between Leo Frank and other girls 
on other Saturdays, including details of witnessing oral sex — an act 
which was considered a particularly degrading perversion at that time. 

When he got to April 26, Conley stated that Frank had told him, 
"I wanted to be with the little girl, and she refused me, and I struck 
her and I guess I struck her too hard and she fell and hit her head 
against something, and I don't know how bad she got hurt. Of course, 
you know I ain't built like other men/' 

Although both Dorsey and his witnesses took care never to be 
more specific, 1913 listeners understood the unspoken implications 
of engaging in oral sex and not being "built like other men." The 
prosecution was insinuating that because Leo was Jewish, his genitals 
were deformed to the point that he could not enjoy conventional 
vaginal intercourse and could only experience sexual pleasure in ways 
that were then considered perverted. 

This false, prejudiced idea had been widely held by anti-Semites 
for centuries, perhaps fueled by misunderstandings about the Jewish 
tradition of circumcision. But no one put the accusation into plain 
words at the trial, so it was impossible for Leo's lawyers to refute as a 
complete fabrication born out of ignorance and bigotry. 

Having planted the seeds of Leo's perversion leading to a deliberate 
sexual attack on Mary Conley went on to describe the cover-up. He 
said he had carried Mary's body onto the elevator and down to the 
basement with Leo's help and then wrote the letters that Leo dictated. 




Vol. XL VI. —No. 50. 

ATU\ NT A. i t A. TULSDA V MOKN I \l 1. A I '< i 1 .'ST ".. HH:-i, - -EI.OHTKEN PAfJKK. 




Scenes in Courtroom Monday While Conley Was on Stand 


Auibanidor Wilson RssigBj 
and Ex-Gov. Lind Is Or- 
dered to Mexico a* Pcr- 
*on«J A«w of Pr«idcnt- 

I ' ' ! -\. lion cif Cmnn;it'<v 
in M . -■!.-. Que p fit St stt 

&jll«! ((. Income by Chop- 

p:i"- 7 ."it l >nT Oft Ffgare*. 


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no Do < Thin*. 

•t*(t il*r- ur:!:: 

TT-.-f • i» k~pltti j o-i da 
iba ri*U plat* ihti«j<b TTmi f'e 


How Atlanta Is Affected 

By the New Express Rates 

i :>..■;.■ Rata bo I ..-.<".; .i<-.- ■ 
Canolllan and Vienna Do " 
darrd L'njust — Will Co it 
Railroads 54.000,000 Yea; 


:- '..— ■ 

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Will Swn Work on Revjtiori ; ; 

When Sheppard Substitute r 

1 TiiHi united — No Re- '■ 
cot ridetation. 

jok-b i«t« Ui« fwad 

The August 5 front page of the Constitution focused on the cross-examination of Jim Conley 
by Leo Franks attorney. Conley's testimony proved to be critical to the trial's outcome. 

Rosser cross-examined Conley Monday afternoon and all day 
Tuesday but could not shake him in his story beyond getting him 
to admit he had lied to the police in the beginning. Conley seemed 
to enjoy answering the attorneys questions. At one point, Rosser 
challenged the size of a piece of cloth that Conley claimed to have 
used in moving Mary's body: 

"Well, what do you call two feet?" 

"This is what I call two feet/' cried Conley, putting the toe of 
his right shoe against the heel of his left and lifting them high off the 

Jim Conley s flippant answers did not weaken his credibility for 
the all-white jury. Nor did his admission that he had initially lied to 
the police. In 1913 most juries, particularly in the South, assumed 
that a black man was less likely to tell the truth than a white man. 
Having him admit that he had lied but was now telling the truth 
actually made him more believable, as did his cockiness. 

Realizing that Conley had seriously damaged Leo's case, the 
defense made a motion to exclude parts of his testimony. They 
wanted the judge to instruct the jury to disregard what Conley had 
said about watching for anyone who might interrupt Leo when he 
was with a girl and also his testimony that Leo was not "built like 
other men." Dorsey insisted that the evidence went to the heart of 
who had killed Mary and why. He pointed out that if the defense had 
wanted to object, they should have done it immediately, not after 
they had cross-examined Conley unsuccessfully for over eight hours. 

After a spirited argument, during which the jury was out of the 
room, Judge Roan ruled that Jim Conley 's testimony was admissible. 
The people in the courtroom applauded loudly, and the mob in the 
streets erupted in cheers. Arnold again asked for a mistrial, stating 
that crowd reaction prejudiced their case. Judge Roan denied the 
motion on the grounds that the jury was not present and therefore 
had not heard it. But of course, the jury could hear the cheers and 
applause. Anyone in the building could hear the mob through the 
open windows. 

The prosecution's last witness was C. Brutus Dalton, a carpenter 
who testified that Jim Conley had kept watch for both Leo and 


Dalton himself while they met with women in Leo's office and in the 
factory basement. On cross-examination, Rosser tripped up Dalton in 
several lies and got him to admit that he was a convict. Nevertheless, 
when the prosecution rested, the Georgian reported, "One by one the 
prosecutor has forged the links in the chain that he maintains fixes 
the guilt of the Phagan murder on Leo Frank and Leo Frank alone." 
Leo's defense team faced a much harder task in the second half of the 
trial than they'd anticipated. 




While the job of the prosecution was to present evidence to convict 
the accused, the job of the defense was to disprove that evidence 
or at least convince the jury that there was reasonable doubt that 
their client could be guilty. Leo's defense started strong, presenting 
Dr. Leroy Childs, who described how hard cabbage was to digest. 
Dr. Childs testified that Mary had probably been killed more 
than thirty or forty-five minutes after she ate, refuting Dr. Harris's 
claim. This medical testimony rendered the prosecutions entire 
timeline invalid. 

Next, the defense recalled Pinkerton detective Harry Scott and 
used his reluctant testimony to show the jury how Scott and the 
police had coached Jim Conley. While this was a technical victory, 
it had none of the emotional impact of Conley s original testimony 
about Leo's alleged sexual encounters and perversions. 

Rosser and Arnold continued to present reasoned testimony that 
refuted each detail of the prosecutions evidence. One of the girls that 
Dal ton had accused of going up to Leo's office with him testified that 
she had never done so. The motorman who had driven the streetcar 
that took Mary to the factory on the day of her death testified that 


no one had sat beside her or calked to her. This refuted George Epps's 
testimony that he had ridden with Mary and his earlier statements 
that she'd told him she was afraid of Leo Frank. And the conductor 
testified that Mary had gotten off the streetcar at 12:10. This 
contradicted Jim Conley s testimony about when the girl had arrived 
and made Monteen Stovers testimony about Leo not being in his 
office when she was there looking for him between 12:05 and 12:10 
irrelevant. The prosecutions timeline was crumbling. 

But the defenses performance in drawing such significant 
information out of their witnesses was too cool and collected to 
convince the jury. The only impassioned moments were when Hugh 
Dorsey leaped to his feet to cross-examine witnesses, scoring only 
minor points but making them sound hugely impressive. The defense 
had not been able to track down Will Green, who could testify that 
Conley had been the real killer, and for reasons they never explained, 
they chose not to put William Mincey on the stand to testify that 
Conley had told him he had killed a girl on Confederate Memorial 
Day. Without eyewitnesses of their own to disprove Conleys 
eyewitness testimony, the defense failed to make a strong impact on 
either the crowd or the jury. 

Other witnesses testified about the layout of the rooms and 
floors in the factory, about the door that had been found broken 
in the basement after the murder, and about the habits of other 
employees in coming in and out of the factory on Saturdays. Assistant 
Superintendent Herbert Schiff testified that Harry Scott, the 
Pinkerton agent hired by the National Pencil Company, had stated 
explicitly that the agency wanted Frank found guilty and had been 
working in collusion with the police the whole time. 

Schiff also gave detailed testimony about Jim Conleys tendency 
to lie, saying that the company kept him on only because it was 
hard to find janitors who would show up for work reliably. Then 
Schiff compared the amount and quality of the paperwork Leo had 
completed on April 26 with the reports he had prepared on previous 
Saturdays and said that the work was identical. He said this indicated 
that Leo had been in a normal frame of mind and working as usual 
that day — making it seem unlikely that he killed someone in the 




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This factory record from the National Pencil Company was offered into evidence by 
Leo Franks defense team. Frank's lawyers argued that Frank would not have returned 
to complicated paperwork if he had just raped and murdered Mary Phagan. 

midst of his weekend bookkeeping and was then able to remain calm 
and routine at the job. 

Fourteen-year-old Magnolia Kennedy refuted Helen Ferguson's 
claim that Leo had refused to give her Marys pay so he could see 
the girl on Saturday. Magnolia confirmed that Mary had not been 
present on payday, and testified that she (Magnolia) was right 
behind Helen when the conversation allegedly took place. Not 
only did Helen not ask for Marys money at all, but it was Herbert 
Schiff who paid the workers that day, not Leo Frank, so there was 
no possible way that Leo could have attempted to arrange a meeting 
with Mary on Saturday. 

Two of the office boys who had worked at the factory also 
testified for the defense: fourteen-year-old Alonzo Mann and 
fifteen-year-old Philip Chambers. Alonzo shyly testified in a low 
voice that he had never seen C. Brutus Dalton going up to the 
superintendents office with women or any women going into 
the superintendents office at all, but he appeared nervous. A 
reporter wrote, "He was frightened by his experience in court, 
and the stenographer [court reporter] had difficulty in hearing 
his answers." 


Philip Chambers, on the other hand, was a confident witness, 
firmly insisting that he had never seen the superintendent acting 
familiar with any of the women in the factory. Dorsey only cross- 
examined Alonzo briefly, not wanting to make the court feel 
sympathetic toward the already anxious witness, but he went after 
Philip with vigor. Dorsey not only challenged the boy about Leos 
alleged relationships with female employees but implied that the 
superintendent had made improper advances to Philip himself. 
The implication that Leo was a pedophile who had tried to have 
homosexual relations with his young male employees, as well as 
depraved sexual relations with his young female employees, was even 
more horrifying to 1913 society than it would be today. 

Philip flatly denied the suggestion, and Arnold objected furiously, 
announcing, "If courts were run this way it could be brought against 
any member of the community — you, me, or the jury. No man can 
get a fair showing against such vile insinuations. If this comes up 
again, I will be tempted to move for a new trial." 

Judge Roan had the cross-examination erased from the record, 
but the jurors had heard it, just as they had heard the crowd s 
response to the decision not to exclude Jim Conleys testimony. Jurors 
are required to disregard any information that the judge orders them 
not to consider, but the defense feared that would be impossible in 
such an emotionally charged atmosphere. 

Throughout the third week of the trial, the defense continued 
to call witnesses who systematically disproved the prosecution's case. 
Dorsey refrained from cross-examining some of the women witnesses, 
but not all. He attacked Minola McKnight after she testified about 
being forced by police to sign the false affidavit. He also criticized 
Leos mother-in-law, arguing that Mrs. Selig should have been more 
concerned about Mary's murder in her son-in-laws factory the Sunday 
the body was found. Dorsey shrugged off the fact that Mrs. Selig 
had been ill and had gone in for an operation the following day. He 
wanted the jury to believe that this Jewish high-society family couldn't 
care less about the death of some working girl they didn't know. 

The defense would call several more witnesses from the factory 
to support their contention that Jim Conley had taken Mary into the 



VoL \ So. 



||| Battleship Carries Special Envoy Lind to Mexico | (J_ |] DALTDN TELLS 



o, r , w^, r -— ; WHAT WILLHUERTA 

Situation w Even Graver 1 
Th*n r ■■• Which Pros '■' 
(he tt ar With Spain. 

<f. lur ition Krr) . McilCO 

i J : . Strengthened by 

10 10 ENVOY LIND? 


we ■>)' Wjuhinguin. 

A1I»on Reg ' A 
« S ■ o. Si . 

Stent*. I »Uod urv Rehsil i 
Hucrra rltteiu'l Court 
U:>- Driw United Stv. 
m J Hi'. Foe*. 


isrtrt ■> tie amt detail- 

of :';. •'.-■■ WB*( - i 


Board Adopt* Resohidoaa At- 
tacking Management of De- 
partment, and Charges Ben 
fore Council Are Rumored, i 

Carey Say* He, ReaE 
h His Last Term L 
Easting Condition* - 
Ei Action* of Codii 




Dechrei He Used Biiemeal 
for Immoral Purposes .it ! 
SameTime Thai Frank Was j | 
in Buildiu;;. But Di,l Not 
Attempt to Say What the 

With Wbm 



c-la r 

Conley Acted 
tit for Him, 


Horry SootI |i Also Put on 
Stand by Dduit to Prove | 
That Conley Lied on Matty I 
OcCMWD*— Detective Was 
on the St.-,nd When Coun. I 
Adjourned for Day — Cjois- , 
lamination Faili to Shake 
Dr. Harris. 


Coatimttd aa Pȣc Sevtn. 

mad •" SITjw'.rfl 

U • .:»*JHI» ««■ «* ' 

fix. w*bi U4 flanl fn«l 'I «««rt 

A. »■«.» paid rt^rinat»Liw, <i 

M mrll .. ■> 

S}e»wer i7»*s Wirt Crew. 


Time for Sfafe to Pay Up, 
Declares Governor Slaton; I niCTrn DV Unlltf"' 
Has Faith in Legislature fmM\ nUUit::;: 


Labor Cotiunuawner"* Thir- 
leeit-Year-OUi Boy, foJutj 
!■>, i i - ■.- j , ■ De ttta I ieW 
at Dublin 

ivifi Substitute Bill Receives r™ J* 
an Overwhelming Majority* d* It on 

What the Measure Pro- OI Visi 
ride*. L t i«« k 

r l.i xrw «lth itww «««. He «W Con- 

.. ^ : " 

.f ■ In Tehran 


The newspapers speculated that Frank's defense might introduce witnesses 
to testify to Leo's good character, which would allow the prosecution to call 
other witnesses to contradict those claims of good character. Either way. 
the testimony was sure to sell a lot of newspapers. 

basement and killed her there, but at this point, they made a risky 
decision. They decided to call character witnesses, knowing that once 
they raised the subject of Leo's character, they would open the door 
for the prosecution to call witnesses to disparage that character. 

It was one thing for a witness to testify that he had seen Leo 
with Mary or any other girl. The jury could believe him, or they 
could decide he was lying. It was a different thing — and much more 
damaging — for a witness or a lawyer to claim that Leo was the sort 
of man who took advantage of young girls all the time. That type of 
character attack could only be made after the defense raised the issue 
of character. 

It was a risky strategy. But Arnold and Rosser could see that the 
technical battle they were winning was not impressing the jury. Perhaps 
if they could make the jury see Leo through friends and family as a real 
person, they could win the jurys sympathy and Leo's acquittal. 

Several of Leo's friends from Cornell and the Pratt Institute 
came to Atlanta to testify that Leo's character was excellent. 
Then John Ashley Jones, the New York Life Insurance Company 
representative who had insured the superintendent, testified that 
Leo was not only in excellent physical condition but also that his 
character was good. That was Dorsey s cue to go on the offensive. 
In his cross-examination, Dorsey demanded of Jones, "Then you 
didn t hear that he took girls in his lap down there at the factory?" 
Although Arnold immediately objected, Judge Roan overruled 
him on the grounds that the defense had introduced the issue of 
character, so the prosecution could now challenge the defendant's 

Dorsey pressed on, asking, "You never heard that Frank went to 
Druid Hills with a little girl, did you?" and "Didn't you hear about 
twelve months ago of Frank kissing girls and playing with the nipples 
of their breasts?" 

"No, nor you either," Leo's mother shouted, leaping to her feet 
and shaking her finger furiously at the solicitor general in outrage. 
She was escorted out of the courtroom, sobbing, and Dorsey pressed 
on, voicing every rumor that had flown around Atlanta during the 
past three and a half months. 


Tensions between the prosecution and the defense rose. When 
Dorsey cross-examined one defense witness on Thursday, August 14, 
the man interrupted, "Mr. Dorsey, don t twist anything I say/' Arnold 
commented, loudly enough that anyone in the courtroom could hear, 
"He will anyhow." The two attorneys charged each other and nearly 
came to blows before they were separated. 

Arnold called a number of witnesses who confirmed Leo's 
timeline of his movements the day Mary was killed. Dorsey tried 
his best to shake them on their times but was unsuccessful. Then 
Arnold brought in another group of character witnesses, ranging 
from factory workers and members of Atlanta's Jewish community 
to more old friends from Cornell. The Constitution reported, "The 
sordid surroundings lost some of their grimness as witness and 
prisoner gripped hands silently or spoke the few simple words 
of greeting." 

Then they called Leo's mother to the stand, hoping to crush the 
image of the Franks as wealthy Jews. She explained that they had no 


£LVL- v,. 

s.vnivbAY ucujxrM; 

KHIl. - IW'Kl.Vk J -A (if.*. 


j Macon Man Slays His Wife ||f 
And Burns Body in Hotel' 

d Character 




estate, had a mortgage on their ten-thousand-dollar home, and lived 
on the interest income from twenty thousand dollars. While that 
didn t sound like a wealthy estate to a New Yorker, it sounded like 
considerable wealth to the poor workers of Atlanta in the crowd and 
to many of the jurors. 

The defense rested with Leo Frank on Monday afternoon. In 
1913 Georgia, the accused could not give sworn testimony and be 
cross-examined, but he could speak to the court. Leo did so for four 
hours. His intention was to speak calmly and reasonably, giving the 
jury the facts of the case as dispassionately as he could. To help jurors 
see how seriously he took his work in the factory, Leo brought in a 
display showing the variety of pencils the National Pencil Company 
manufactured. However, Dorsey objected on the grounds that the 
pencil display had not been introduced as evidence. Leo went on to 
try to describe his work without his visual aids. 

Puzzled by his careful discussion of pencil production and 
unmoved by his fascination with the details of the invoicing report he 
had been preparing on April 26, the jury waited to hear Leo sound as 
passionate as Jim Conley They were stunned that he had so little to 
say about Mary Phagan — even though Leo felt he could not have said 
more since he hadn't known the girl and had only seen her briefly on 
the day she died. 

But in the end, Leo found the eloquence the jury had been 
waiting to hear: 

A D 

The statement of the negro Conley is a tissue of lies from 
first to last. I know nothing whatever of the cause of the 
death of Mary Phagan and Conley s statement as to his 
coming up and helping me dispose of the body, or that I 
had anything to do with her or to do with him that day 
is a monstrous lie. . . . 

The story as to women coming into the factory with 
me for immoral purposes is a base lie and the few 
occasions that he claims to have seen me in indecent 
positions with women is a lie so vile that I have no 
language with which to fitly denounce it. . . . 



Ai'.AMA, GA. TL'KSUAV MMUM: \U\VS\ IS, I5J8. -3?0 


'Silent Man in To wer" Tells His Story to Men Who Will Decide His f ate 

Two 'if Lao ,M. 

Frank on ibc vvMm-i 
staud on Hondas after. 


Discussing Much-Faught-Over Point of His | 
Allied Nervousness on the Morning of Hie 
Murder, Superintendent Admits It Freely . 
Declaring That Any Man in His Place Would 
Have Been Similarly Affected -Sneaks Bit- 
terly of His Treatment by Members of De- 
tective Force, and Says That One Renson 
Why He Would Not Consent to Meet Con ley 
Was That the Officers Would Have Distorted 
His Words. 


Declares Story of Conley Was a Lie From Begin- 
ning to End, and Denies Charge of Miss 
Jackson That He Ever looked Into Dressing 
Room of Girl Employees— He Tells of Mary 
Phngan Coming to Office to Get Her Pay 
Envelope Shortly After Noon on April 26. 
Says That He Gave Detectives Clue That 
Conley Could Write, Which Led to Arrest 
of Negro Sweeper — No Fund Raised for 
His Defense, He Asserts. 


, 'l.' 


BY HIS PURSUERS «-^H^=£^^-" 

t I I frcmUuMt b< 

L UU r W »*M «. SJ 

Dam -h,.t. Biladt. kad iwi b*»s tami- uv li 


d mat (drniti la l£« ictr-nioai It* i.»J Jwt 

Plton he n»L«t io * n#*»|i*;wr nun lh»i S>« *■» 
a ntrimiuim, ami th»t tit npniil le Iw do lb* 

■ vim hMr* uo<M Ijy him in M» dark dA7« of 

. flu 4ew*d asuth*r mil hi. bltbfal 

i«€4 id*? re. Id .** him *i«Mi. 

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iu lalal day Vina W.o f'*<i »bht*<1 I hi sKk. 


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iH.iiiiiu ii Been :■ 

1 LiuerU il,i- He- 

The Vr:. Who Kill 

Leo Frank himself gave the newspapers their most dramatic 
headlines and images by testifying for four hours on August 
19, 1913. The Constitution devoted almost half of its front 
page to two images of Frank making his speech. 

Gentlemen, some newspaper men have called me "the 
silent man in the tower, " and I have kept my silence and 
my counsel advisedly, until the proper time and place. 
The time is now; the place is here; and I have told you 
the truth, the whole truth. 

Many people in the courtroom were moved by Leo's closing, but 
easily as many were chilled by the earlier part of his statement and by 
the fact that he was more excited by pencil manufacture than by the 
death of one of his workers. 

After the defense rested, the prosecution had the opportunity 
to call rebuttal witnesses. Dorsey called a group of factory girls to 
challenge Leo's character with further claims of sexual impropriety. 
Rosser was careful in his cross-examination, not wanting to appear 
to bully the girls. He even chose not to cross-examine some of them. 
To the jury, that suggested the defense accepted the girls' testimony 
as truth, and Dorsey emphasized that interpretation in his closing 
argument, crying, "They didn't dare to do it." 

Arnold and Rosser each spoke in closing arguments for the defense, 
and each was effective in tearing apart Dorsey s web of circumstantial 
evidence. Arnold clearly pointed out the errors in Jim Conley's testimony 
and showed how the defense had refuted the other prosecution witnesses. 
He contended that Dorsey "almost changed the course of time in an 
effort to get Frank convicted," and closed by telling the jury that the 
state's case was built solely on "prejudice and perjury. I have never seen 
such malice, such personal hatred in all my life." 

Rosser attacked the investigation, detailing how police had 
browbeaten their witnesses. He concluded by attacking the 
prosecution for teaching Jim Conley the story to tell in court and 
calling the man "a trained parrot." He closed by saying, "I don't 
believe any man, no matter what his race, ought to be tried under such 
testimony. I might [hang a man on such testimony] in the daytime, 
but at night when things got quiet I would be ashamed of myself." 

Hugh Dorseys closing argument for the prosecution was masterful. 
He spoke for nine hours over three days, presenting Jim Conley as a 
simple worker who had admitted to being paid off by a powerful white 


Jew to help hide his boss's crime. Dorsey praised the workers and the 
good country people who had come forward to denounce the fiend. At 
the end, he turned to Leo and attacked him directly: 

"You assaulted her, and she resisted. She wouldn't yield. You 
struck her and you ravished her and she was unconscious." 

Mary's mother was seated at the prosecution table with her other 
daughter, and when she heard this, she screamed and buried her face 
in the girl's arms. Dorsey continued: 

"You tell me she wasn't ravished? I ask you to look at the blood — you 
tell me that little child wasn't ravished? I ask you to look at the drawers, 
that were torn. I ask you to look at the blood on the drawers. ..." 

Lucille, seated just behind Leo, sobbed. Dorsey faced her husband 
and said: 

You gagged her y and then quickly you tipped up to the front, 
where you knew there ivas a cord, and you got the cord 
and in order to save your reputation which you had among 
the members of the Bnai Bnth, in order to save, not your 
character, because you never had it, but in order to save the 
reputation with [the Jewish community] and your kinfolks 
in Brooklyn, rich and poor, and in Athens, then it was 
that you got the cord and fixed the little girl ivhom youd 
assaulted, who wouldn't yield to your proposals, to save your 
reputation, because dead people tell no tales. 

Dorsey completed his closing argument on Monday, August 25, 
his voice hoarse and tiring as he told the jury that Mary Phagan 

died a noble death, not a blot on her name. She died 
because she woiddnt yield her virtue to the demands of 
her superintendent. 

Your Honor, I have done my duty. . . . And I predict, 
may it please Your Honor, that under the law that you give 
in charge and under the honest opinion of the jury of the 
evidence produced, there can be but one verdict, and that 
is: We the jury find the defendant, Leo M. Frank, guilty! 





Solicitor-General, Atlanta Judicial Circuit 



Charged with the murder of Mary Phagan 

Above: A newspaper 
photo of the members 
of the Leo Frank jury. 

Left: Hugh Dorsey's 
closing argument in the 
case lasted nine hours. 
It was published as a 
book the following year. 

f'lihfflW by 


ill Third iilrvrl 

Hugh Dorsey had timed it perfectly. As he spoke the word 
guilty, nearby church bells rang out the noon hour. Dorsey repeated, 
"Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!" as the twelve chimes sounded, each chime 
a 'guilty" charge for each juror who was about to retire to consider 
his verdict. 

The jury left the old city hall for lunch, walking through the 
streets packed with a crowd of five thousand people demanding 
Leo Franks blood. When they returned from their meal, the jury 
took only an hour and forty-five minutes and two ballots to reach 
a verdict. Fearful that mob violence would break out, Judge Roan 
cleared the courtroom. He also asked that Leo and his attorneys 
not be present when the verdict was read. Although this technically 
denied the accused due process of law, the judge feared that Leo and 
his lawyers would be in physical danger if the jury acquitted him, and 
Rosser and Arnold agreed to the request. 

Jury foreman Fred Winburn faced the judge with only Hugh 
Dorsey in the courtroom and announced, his voice unsteady, that Leo 
Frank was found guilty of the murder of Mary Phagan. 

When he received the news, Leo gasped, "My God! Even the 
jury was influenced by mob law. I am as innocent as I was a year 
ago." Lucille sobbed bitterly. The Constitution reported she "cuddled 
closer to her boyish-looking husband. . . . He stroked her head and 
pleaded with her to be brave." No one other than Leo and Lucille's 
immediate family knew at this time that Lucille had miscarried and 
lost their child. She must have thought at this moment that she was 
about to lose her husband and any chance for their future children, 
as well. 

Hugh Dorsey came out of the building and only walked a few 
steps before members of the crowd hoisted him to their shoulders and 
carried him, cheering loudly. The following week, Dorsey was the 
guest of honor at a celebration barbecue that also paid tribute to all 
twelve members of the jury in attendance. 

Jim Conley would be found guilty of accessory after the fact to 
Mary Phagan's murder and would be sentenced to serve one year 
on the chain gang. But Leo Frank was sentenced to be hanged on 
October 10, 1913. 








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'! Am ai Innocent Today as I \Y ;l s One Year 
Ago/'^He Cries— "Hie Jury Has Been Influ- 
enced by Mob Law"— "I Am Shinurd hy 
News," Declares Rabbi Marx, One at 
Prisoner's Glosc-aj Friends — Defense Plans lo 
Qiny Gist* in Supreme Courl in Order to 
Sec hit New Trio!— Judge Roan Will Defer 
Sentence For p Few Days 



Judge Roan Thanks Jurymen for Services Dar* 
ini< Four Lo^g, I J ; ir,| Weeks, and TclJa Mem- 
bers lie HofK-s They Will Find Their Families 
Well— Gun-ii-uoni Was Cleared by Grderol 
Judge Before Jury W;is Brought in lo Give IK 
Verdict— -l")!! Sorry for l-Yamk's Wife ...„!. 
His Mother," S;ns Solieilor Dorsev, 

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>! human nature to rcjil that (he .. 


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"k»»!ij' - over (he r<rlc[.hofiti in .\t]jn(«'. 

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The rnd h»J ccroc so ih< (onye"! 


" I ' ' ' ■'• w ni up fr-.jn 

Friends Tell Frank in Tower I :, 

Of Jury's Verdict of Guilty; L 'T 

Prisoner Cheers Weepino Wife' f> 

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'i spooned away »hcti -l-.r ,.nr.] th-r ;.a;h1 ncwi. 

• ■ I ' -■;■:■- ...... „■. | . 

'.-'U' :•.;■.., 

CtO^imtA oa Pj^-r Sevta, 

' Continued on P-^'C >'ciur. 

The guilty verdict was just another in a series of headlines in the 
Frank case. In this edition of the Constitution, the headlines focus 
on the personal reactions of Frank, his family, and friends. 





Leo wrote from prison to John Gould, a classmate from Cornell, 
"In April 1913, outrageous trouble overtook me like a bolt from the 
blue. The charge was so preposterous that at first I treated the matter 
disdainfully, it was all so foreign and far removed from my most 
fantastic conception of thought." Now that he had been convicted 
of murder, Leo was treating the matter very seriously indeed. Leo, 
Lucille, and his lawyers worked together to plan a course of action to 
either get a new trial or to reverse the jury's decision. 

Despite the urgency of the situation, Rosser and Arnold agreed 
to a request from the prosecution not to appeal on the grounds 
that Leo wasn't in court when the verdict was read. The attorneys 
were confident that they had more than enough grounds for appeal 
without this one. Why they agreed to anything Hugh Dorsey asked, 
however, has mystified legal scholars. 

In 1913 Georgia, a capital murder case could only be appealed 
based on errors in law and the motion for appeal had to go to 
the original judge who had presided over the trial. Rosser and 
Arnold found over one hundred points of law to appeal, including 
their argument that Conley's testimony should have been ruled 
inadmissible, the crowd s influence on the jury, and charges that 
several jurors were anti-Semitic and had lied to get on the jury in 
order to convict Frank. Although the appeal delayed Leo's execution, 


Judge Roan denied the motion for a new trial on October 31, stating 
that the legal issues were clear. He admitted, "With all the thought 
I have put on this case, I am not thoroughly convinced that Frank is 
guilty or innocent." But Roan then stated, "The jury was convinced. 
There is no room to doubt that. I feel it is my duty to order that the 
motion for a new trial be overruled." 

Rosser announced that they would appeal to the Georgia 
Supreme Court on the basis of Judge Roans admission of doubt. Leo 
waited in prison for their decision, but on February 17, 1914, the 
Georgia Supreme Court justices ruled 4-2 that the trial judge was the 
only one who could decide whether or not the crowd had prevented 
a fair trial. They stated that Judge Roan's admission of doubt wasn't 
enough to make them overturn the verdict. 

At the hearing to set a new date for execution, Leo again insisted 
that he was innocent, blaming his conviction on rumors instead of 
facts. "Not only were these stories circulated in the street, but to the 
shame of our community be it said that these vile insinuations crept 
into my very trial in the courtroom, creeping in insidiously, like a 
thief in the night. The virus of these damning insinuations entered 
the minds of the twelve men and stole away their judicial frame of 
mind and their moral courage." Leo's new date of execution was set 
for April 17, 1914 — his thirtieth birthday. 

Leo decided that his lawyers had not been serving him well 
and hired new attorneys. The cost of his defense was mounting far 
beyond what he and the owners of the National Pencil Company 
could afford. But word of his case had reached the ears of the 
American Jewish Committee by means of letters and a series of 
seven leaflets that Leo handwrote in his cell and then gave to Lucille 
to type for him. The leaflets explored the contradictions in the 
solicitor generals case and showed the impossibility of reconciling 
Conley's story with the nineteen other timeline witnesses, whose 
testimony fit "together like pieces of mosaic." Of those nineteen 
witnesses, only ten were for the defense — the other nine were the 
State of Georgia's own witnesses, Leo urged readers, "Think it over, 
there is no excuse for a mistake to be made, with open eyes, by an 
individual or a community." 


0VE £J^ m \ The Atlanta Georgian. 

TtaSunday American 

Lead* At! Competitors 

RvadfoT Profit— GEORGIAN WAfFT ADS— U se far Result* 




Says Juror Declared Eagerness to Hang Accused 


■ Wilson Signs Tariff 
Bill To-night; Goes 

Into Effect at 12:01 

Synagogne Collapse 

Hurts Scores; Panic |j 
Seizes Worshiperal 





HAnAh f ! i 

liJllInU! Office flaw* 

1 : £1 ■ ■ I fj it " '.■;.-( 

At Ma "'■■ c 


Loses S«it Against 1 

Wife i 

. ArgentmiB Beel In 

Demand hi Atlanta ; 

':Bi l I Pi 
, .- j Amerioaas in China! 

a Stree i - 
? ins Away 

BuertaP; r( 
Wilson !':■■ 

Dixie Con.;: ti 

, : Hita Cotton FuLli res 

U.S.Ju a in A 

New Entries in Race President, to Visit 
I I ijor Pro Tern Woolle October 37-29 ; 

Newspapers kept their readers invested in the Frank case by 
reporting on every twist and turn in the appeals process. 

When renowned constitutional lawyer Louis Marshall, the 
American Jewish Committees president, read Leos leaflets and 
the letters from Atlanta Jews and other Jews across the country, he 
realized two things. Public opinion had to be shifted in the southern 
press, and Leo needed a legal fund to pay his lawyers and pay for press 
liaison work. Accordingly, the committee worked to raise money from 
philanthropists, most of them Jewish, such as Chicago advertising 
magnate Albert Lasker. 



Lasker neglected his own business to personally direct new 
investigators and detectives and to help advise Leo's attorneys. 
According to Lasker s biographer, John Gunther, "Every instinct he 
had for justice and fair play, for racial tolerance, for dignity in the 
courts and good citizenship, was aroused." 

The first thing Leo's new team did was make two motions before 
the Fulton County Superior Court in April 1914. One was an appeal 
on the basis that Leo had been denied due process of law because he 
was not permitted to be present in court when the verdict was read. 
They felt the promise the other attorneys had made to Dorsey didn't 
apply to them. They also made an extraordinary motion for a new 
trial on the basis of new evidence. (An extraordinary motion was 
the only way to get a Georgia court to consider voiding a previous 
conviction and granting a new trial.) 

The new evidence was compelling. On February 20, the Atlanta 
Journal had published the news that Dr. Harris, who had performed 
Mary's autopsy, had known before the trial that the hair found on 
the lathe was not Mary's hair. He had told Dorsey, and the solicitor 
general had neither informed the defense of this evidence that would 
have cleared Leo nor allowed Dr. Harris to inform the court. Dorsey 
had simply gone ahead with his contention that Robert Barrett had 
found Mary Phagan's hair on the second floor, placing the scene 
of her murder near Leo's office, knowing that the evidence did not 
support this. 

Henry Alexander, a former Georgia general assemblyman, joined 
the defense team. An established attorney who had prepared the 
documents to found the Atlanta Art Association (now the leading 
museum of art in the southeastern United States), Alexander brought 
an air of southern gentility to the defense. Although a member of 
Atlanta's Jewish community, Alexander was equally well respected by 
the city's Gentile population. In fact, at the University of Georgia, he 
had been Hugh Dorsey's roommate. 

Alexander analyzed the letters found beside Mary's body for the 
defense. He pointed out that the old date on the order pad on which 
one letter was written suggested that the pad had originated in the 
basement, where old supplies were stored, not on the second floor, 


where current supplies were kept and where Jim Conley claimed Leo 
had dictated the letters to him. 

More important, however, Alexander argued that the term "night 
witch" in the line "he said he wood love me land down play like the 
night witch did it" did not refer to "night watchman" as everyone had 
supposed. It actually referred to a specific haunt, or evil spirit, that 
many African American people believed in. The Baptist minister of 
Mary Phagans own church confirmed this interpretation, saying he 
asked his black servant about "night witch" and she told him, "When 
the children cry out in their sleep at night, it means that the night 
witches are riding them, and if you dont go and wake them up, they 
will be found next morning strangled to death, with a cord around 
their necks." Alexander insisted that, given Leo's cultural background, 
there was no way Leo could have known this story to use the phrase 
in his dictation, as Dorsey had claimed. 

Supporting Alexander's findings, Leos lawyers discovered letters 
that Conley had written while he was in jail to a girl named Annie 


I T/.TT. 


^W w A 



L' ? ^l 


... m> 




Some Facts 


The Murder Notes 

in the 

Phagan Case 


ii mm 

Above: Henry Alexander brought a measure of southern 
credibility to Frank's defense. The photo above shows him in 
college with prosecutor Hugh Dorsey. Years after the case, 
Alexander refused to attend a college reunion because 
Dorsey would be there — yet he kept this photo all his life. 

Left and below: Alexander also took Frank's case to the 
public, distributing a pamphlet called Some Facts about 
the Murder Notes in the Phagan Case. 


37 £ 39 SOUTH F-QRSlfTH ^T. 

JL 5 

TvhV" . --- v.f'i — : / 

L :_:.- "'■_.- 

^ ■ : 

npixisilc JJUjr will) , 

"Mam that negro hire down here did ihii i went 
lo make water and he push me down thai hole ;i 
long tall ncRro black thai hoo it wnsc long ulenm 
l.ill negro i wright while- piny with me" 

KViMliii- uiil) nron cQirMtaii 

"Mama: Thai negro hired down here did thia. I 
went lo make water and he pmhed me down that 
hole, a Iomr tall netfro, black, lhal who il wa.-,. long 
*lim tail negro. I write while play wilh me." ' 

rtOt n«" »(i» protm- 

'ji! '-.•'>: ' Mi 

Maud Carter. Their language and sentence structure matched the 
style of the letters found in the pencil factory, lending credence to 
the idea that Conley had not written them to anyone's dictation but 
had composed them himself. Alexander was so convinced that the 
evidence of the letters proved Leo's innocence and Conley's guilt, 
that he had his findings privately printed in pamphlet form. He 
distributed these pamphlets to the general population of Atlanta, 
hoping to turn popular opinion in Leo's favor. 

The defense also had affidavits stating that many of Dorsey's 
witnesses had been coerced to lie or exaggerate, George Epps among 
them. The boys testimony had already been refuted in court by the 
streetcar conductor. Later George said he had been encouraged to 
lie and continue lying, even after he admitted to Dorsey that his 
testimony was false. 

A number of the girls who had been character witnesses against 
Leo stated that they had been told what to say, and one witness even 
swore he had overheard Conley telling another man that he had killed 
Mary himself Annie Maud Carter signed an affidavit saying that 
Jim Conley had told her that he had beckoned to Mary in the pencil 
factory after she got her pay and then pushed her down the trapdoor 
into the basement and killed her. Even Helen Ferguson came forward 
with the new information that Jim Conley had tried to attack her in 
the factory the Saturday before Mary had been killed. 

And a new witness, Mrs. J. B. Simmons, came forward with 
an affidavit that stated she had visited Atlanta on April 26. As she 
walked past the pencil factory at around 2:30, she heard a woman 
screaming for help from the basement. When she told the solicitor 
general, he tried to get her to say that she had actually heard the 
screams after 3:00, or at 1:30 instead of 2:30. "Mr. Dorsey wanted 
me to testify that it was at the time Mr. Frank was in the factory 
that I heard the screams, but I told him that I wasn't going to swear 
to an untruth just to help him or anyone else. I left him my address, 
expecting to be called as a witness at the trial, but that was the last I 
ever heard of it." 

However, Dorsey argued against the extraordinary motion for 
a new trial, claiming that witnesses had been paid by the defense's 


investigators to give false statements. Some witnesses, like George 
Epps, did change their testimony back to the original version after 
being threatened by Dorsey. Others, like Mrs. Simmons, did not, 
and some of them paid for it. iMinola McKnight was attacked at 
knifepoint, and slashed and beaten so badly that she refused to say 
anything about the case again. 

On May 6, the court refused to grant the extraordinary motion. 
The defense appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court. In the twenty- 
first century, this type of appeal process would be drawn out. 
Prisoners on death row automatically have their cases appealed, and 
it may take many years before a convicted murderer sentenced to 
death is actually executed. But in 1914, few verdicts were appealed 
and executions were carried out a few months after the conviction. 
When lawyers did appeal a verdict, the courts did not take their time 
considering the case and giving a decision, as they do today. They 
ruled quickly and decisively. 

Leo barely had time to get his hopes up before the Georgia 
Supreme Court ruled, on June 6, to deny the defense motion to set 
aside the conviction on the grounds of failure to allow the defendant 
due process. When his attorneys took the motion to the Fulton 
County Superior Court, he hoped for success again, only to have the 
Superior Court deny the motion as well. 

But Leo continued to hope. His attorneys appealed that ruling 
to the Georgia Supreme Court and also continued arguing the 
extraordinary motion for a new trial based on new evidence. But on 
October 14, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the lower courts 
denial of the extraordinary motion for a new trial, discounting the 
new evidence. And on November 17, the same court ruled against 
setting aside the original guilty verdict. 

A new execution date was set for January 22, 1915. But Leo 
and his supporters refused to give up. Albert Lasker wrote to Leo 
that he was very glad to see "that the same courageous spirit which 
has always been with you during your terrible martyrdom is still 
buoying you up. . . . The courage that your own consciousness of 
innocence gives you is helping you bridge over the awful chasm of 
this persecution/ 1 


Leo's attorneys took the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme 
Court, asking the justices to issue a legal document, or writ, of habeas 
corpus. In Latin, habeas corpus means "You shall have the body" 
Under U.S. law, prisoners can petition for such a writ to obtain 
their freedom when they believe they are being held unlawfully. The 
defense team argued that Leo was being held in prison illegally since 
he had been denied due process by not being allowed in court when 
he was sentenced. 

Louis Marshall of the American Jewish Committee traveled to 
Washington, D.C., to present this argument himself, writing that "I 
was not in the case as paid counsel, but that I had embarked upon 
it, because I felt that I owed a duty to the profession, to the cause of 
justice/' The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. 

While the defense presented evidence of the crowds shouts and 
threats, Solicitor General Dorsey argued, "We showed by witnesses 
that none of the alleged demonstrations in the court room during 
Frank's trial and none of those alleged to have occurred in the streets 
outside the court house ever came to the attention of the jury" 

On April 9, 1915, after Leo had been in jail for nearly two years, 
the Supreme Court rejected this last appeal, 7-2. The majority 
decision stated that Leo's attorneys had waived the right to argue that 
the accused had been denied due process because they had not raised 
the objection in a timely manner. 

Not all the justices agreed. Oliver Wendell Holmes and Charles 
Evans Hughes dissented, arguing that "Mob law does not become due 
process of law by securing the assent of a terrorized jury" But their 
distress didn't help Leo Frank. His execution was now set for June 
22, 1915, and his only hopes were to petition the Georgia Prison 
Commission and then the governor of Georgia, for clemency to 
mercifully sentence him to life in prison instead of death. Stunned, 
Leo told reporters, "It is so hideous, but at the same time, so unreal, 
so incongruous." 

On May 31, 1915, the defense appealed to the Georgia Prison 
Commission for clemency. The defense was denied by a 2-1 
vote on June 9. The dissenting commissioner, Thomas Patterson, 
believed that it would be unforgivable to send a man to death on 


the testimony of an 
accomplice, when that 
accomplice appeared to 
be the guilty man. But he 
was unable to convince the 
other two commissioners. 

Leo could not 
understand why his 
appeals had been ruled 
against on every turn. The 
evidence that he had not 
gotten a fair trial seemed 
overwhelming. As he had 
asked throughout the 
appeals process, "Can it 
be that the law, and our system 

of its administration, is so inexorable that truth and innocence may 
never be heard after once the die is cast? Is the door forever closed and 
the way barred?" 





Why did every court rule against Leo Frank? For a start, each courts 
decision had to be based on points of law, not common sense. An 
appeals court could only decide whether the law had been followed 
in the original trial and whether the attorneys had followed the law 
governing appeals after the original trial was over. None of the judges 
could retry the case to reach a decision. They could only rule on the 
information the defense attorneys were allowed to give them in their 
legal briefs. Well might Leo ask, "Is the technical finesse of the law to 
forever preclude a hearing of facts, and human right to be trampled 
beneath the judicial feet?" Indeed, the courts could not apply the 
common sense that was beginning to be expressed across the entire 
United States. 

Collier's Weekly published a detailed expose about the case, 
and newspaper editorials (even in papers published in every 
southern state) expressed horror that any citizen could be tried by 
innuendo and prejudice. They begged for some court, any court, 
to overturn the conviction and give Leo Frank the opportunity for 
a fair trial. Citizens spoke out in protest, even in Atlanta, where 
Dr. A. R. Holderby, pastor of the First Christian Church, stated, 
"If the evidence against this unfortunate man is true — if there is 
no reasonable doubt — then he ought to suffer the penalty. But it 







Of Collier's WeeKly 


25 Cents 

would be unfair to hang a 
sheep killing dog upon the 
evidence upon which Frank 
has been convicted/' 

In December 1914, 
after the Georgia Supreme 
Court denied the second 
appeal, the defense 
asked Judge Roan if he 
would recommend that 
the governor grant Leo 
clemency. Judge Roan wrote, 
"It is possible that I showed 
undue deference to the 
opinion of the jury in this 
case, when I allowed their 
verdict to stand. They said 
by their verdict that they 
had found the truth. I was 
still in a state of uncertainty, 
and so expressed myself . . . 

I allowed the jury s verdict to remain undisturbed. I had no way of 
knowing it was erroneous." Roan did say that he would urge the 
governor to consider the case "at the proper time," but would not 
agree to do so immediately, even though he knew he was in failing 
health and near death. He concluded with, "If by any cause I am 
prevented from doing this, you are at liberty to use this letter at the 

In fact, Roan was so unsure about how he had handled 
the trial that he admitted his doubts to J. J. Barge, an Atlanta 
attorney. Barge told the judge that if he had felt the same 
uncertainty that Roan expressed, Barge would "certainly have 
granted a new trial. [Roan] then said, 'Well, suppose I had, then 
that dreadful mob spirit would have broken out again, and now 
when it goes to the Supreme Court and comes back, maybe he can 
get a fair trial/" 

Leo Frank's trial became national news. 
The national magazine Collier's Weekly 
published The Truth about the Frank Case, 
an expose about the case. 



Powerful figures in southern politics like 
Tom Watson [above) used the Frank trial 
to generate support for their own causes. 

That mob spirit came from 
more than prejudice against 
Leo because he was a northern 
industrialist. It came from more 
than sexual prejudice against 
a man accused of violating a 
southern woman. It also came 
from religious prejudice against 
Leo because he was Jewish. That 
he was a Yankee Jew only made 
things worse. 

The mob spirit and religious 
prejudice were fed by one particular 
politician named Tom Watson. 
Watson had served in the U.S. 
House of Representatives, had run 
as the vice-presidential candidate 
on the Populist Party ticket with 
William Jennings Bryan in 1896, and had run for president himself 
in 1904. In 1913 he still exerted considerable power over Georgia's 
Democratic Party and, through his magazines, over Georgia's voters. 
Watson took the sparks of anti-Semitism and finned them into a 
fire that threatened to devastate Atlanta as absolutely as Sherman's 
fires had in the War Between the States. 

Despite that most Atlanta citizens thought well of their Jewish 
community in general, they were quick to follow Watson's lead. In 
stirring up public opinion against Leo Frank, reporters and public 
speakers were willing to use the word "Jew" as if it were an even 
stronger curse than "murderer." Tom Watson, who claimed he spoke 
for the Gentile, or non-Jewish, poor and rural people of Georgia, 
aggressively encouraged this attitude. 

Watson asked "Does a Jew expect extraordinary favors and 
immunities because of his race?" and denounced Leo as a wealthy 
Jew who thought his money gave him the right to prey upon poor 
southern girls. That was quite a different picture of Leo from 
the relatively poor man his friends knew. Louis White Fehr had 



been a classmate of Leo's at Cornell, a school with many wealthy 
students, and wrote during the trial that "when I knew Mr. Frank 
in college he was a young man who lived modestly without a large 

But no one who read Tom Watsons magazine wanted to know 
what a New Yorker thought about Leo Frank. These readers already 
resented Leo because they believed that wealthy northern Jews 
were paying for his legal battle. Watson screamed, "Jew money has 
debased us, bought us, and sold us — and laughs at us." He sneered 
at Leo's supporters (mostly Jewish), who were trying to raise money 
for his appeals, writing, 

The [Jewish] Finance Committee and its cooperative 
organizations do not intend that Frank shall be punished 
at all, for the rape and murder he committed on the 
Gentile girl 

In their eyes she was legitimate prey; and with their 
Unlimited Money and Invisible Power, they have 
established the precedent in Georgia that no Jew shall 
suffer capital punishment for a crime committed on a 

In the name of God, iv hat are the people to do? 

Watson stirred up religious prejudice against Jews to the point 
that some Christian citizens of Atlanta were moved to threaten 
anyone who supported Leo. While Leo's lawyers worked on his 
appeal, they were bombarded by anonymous telephone calls 
threatening, "If they don't hang that Jew, we'll hang you." 

This fury against Jews got to the point that people who privately 
sympathized with Leo feared violent retribution. One Kansas 
reporter, sent to observe the appeal process, wrote: 

The managing editor, associate editor, city editor, 
assistant city editor and court reporter of an Atlanta 
newspaper said to me they knew Frank was entitled to a 
new trial; his trial ivas not fair. 


"Then why don t you say so?" I asked. 
"We dare not; we woidd be accused of being bought by 
Jeio money, " they answered. 

What judge would be willing to reverse Leo's original conviction 
on the basis of facts if it meant facing such accusations, especially 
when he could base his ruling on legal technicalities and spare himself 
the charge of being bought by Jews? 

Only one person in authority proved willing and able to ignore 
emotion and prejudice, and take a clear-eyed new look at Leo 
Frank's conviction. 






Governor John Slaton had hoped to leave office unscathed by 
the emotional turmoil of Mary Phagans murder and Leo Frank's 
trial. He had his own political ambitions and intended to use the 
governors seat as a stepping-stone on the way to the U.S. Senate. 
Tom Watson and other 
Georgia statesmen had 
promised their support for 
his campaign, and he was 
eager to get started. His 
gubernatorial successor, 
Nat Harris, was due to 
take office on June 26, 
1915, and Slaton assumed 
that if Leo Franks petition 
for clemency came to the 
governors office, Harris 
would be the one who 
would have to deal with it. 
But Leo's petition came 
to Slaton before he left 
office, and no sooner had 
he received it than he began 
to receive warnings. Watson 

John M. Slaton was the governor of 
Georgia from 1911 to 1912 and 1913 to 1915. 


let Slaton know that if the governor would deny clemency and let Leo 
hang, Watson would use his power to get Slaton elected U.S. senator 
and would make him the dominant force in Georgia politics for the 
next twenty years. If Slaton granted clemency, Watson would give his 
considerable support to someone else. 

Threatening Governor Slaton was not a wise move. John Slaton 
was an unusual politician: a man with a conscience. Watsons 'offer/' 
probably beyond any other consideration, prompted him to examine 
the Leo Frank case closely. He had already gone on record the 
previous year as believing, "If Leo M. Frank is guilty, he ought to 
be hanged. If he is not guilty, then he ought to be saved." And the 
governor seemed unmoved by the prejudice that had swept much of 
his constituency He said, "Frank shall not be a victim of injustice 
because he is a Jew. I don't want the impression to go out that the 
governor of Georgia could not give justice to a Jew." 

On the morning of June 12, 1915, Governor Slaton reluctantly 
opened hearings on Leo's petition for clemency Leo's lawyers weren't 
asking the governor to grant a pardon and say that Leo should not 
be punished at all for Mary's murder. They were asking him to 
commute Leo's death sentence to life imprisonment. This was partly 
due to Leo's insistence that asking for a pardon would be as much as 
confessing guilt. He didn't want to be pardoned for a crime he had 
not committed — he wanted justice. His lawyers were also worried 
about the angry mood in Atlanta. They had good reason to be 

When the prison commission had heard their petition only two 
weeks earlier, nearly one thousand people had gathered in Marietta, 
Mary's hometown, in a meeting to protest granting clemency The 
meeting started with the cry, "Let him hang!" and built to its climax 
with the angry announcement: "Mary Phagan was a poor factory 
girl. What show would she have against Jew money? When they 
found they couldn't fool the people of Georgia, they got people from 
Massachusetts, New York and California to try and raise trouble. 
Well, we throw the advice of these outsiders back in their teeth." 

The group sent a delegation to inform the commission of the 
depth of their feelings. Leo's lawyers suspected that Atlanta would 


explode in riots and Leo might be attacked before he could be taken 
out of the city if they asked for a pardon and received it. So they 
petitioned the governor for commutation of Leo's death sentence to 
life in prison. 

Governor Slaton conducted intensive hearings. He visited 
the factory and explored the office area, the metal shop, and the 
basement. He read through the transcripts, legal briefs, and all 
documents relating to the case. And he considered the affidavits of 
Will Green, William Mincey, and others who had sworn they heard 
Jim Conley confess to the murder. 

The governor also considered the letter Judge Roan had 
written before his death, saying that he would urge the governor 
to consider clemency. He considered a letter sent him by Colonel 
P. H. Brewster, who had been one of Hugh Dorsey's law partners 
at the time of Leo's original trial. Brewster said that based on the 
facts he learned at the law office, he was certain that Leo Frank was 
innocent. He even urged the governor to publish his letter so that 
the public would know the truth. 

Slaton spoke with people outside of the hearings. Deputy 
Clerk of the Court Frank Myers told the governor that Judge 
Roan had told him in the men's room that the solicitor general 
who had preceded Hugh Dorsey would have asked the jury to find 
Leo not guilty. One of the jailers, Mr. Tuggle, told the governor 
that "if he had been left for a few days longer in charge of the 
prisoners, he was convinced from the way Jim Conley talked, 
that Conley would have admitted committing the offense, but 
the Chief of Detectives said that he didn't care anything about 
convicting a negro for the murder. That, of course, was the usual 
course of events, but it would be a feather in his cap if he could 
convict a white man and a Jew." 

John Boykin, who would later be elected solicitor general, wrote 
to Slaton that he had spoken with William Smith, Jim Conley's 
lawyer, and Smith had told him that Conley had admitted to 
committing the murder. Smith felt, however, that he could not 
disclose this admission publicly because of attorney-client privilege, 
which protects the privacy of conversations between lawyers and 


those they represent. But he had issued a statement that "Leo M. 
Frank is innocent, and that if a proper cooperation of officials can be 
secured I have absolute faith that the mystery of the death of Mary 
Phagan will be solved to the satisfaction of every reasonable man in 
the community." 

The governor himself spoke at length with Smith. The lawyer 
would not confirm that Conley had confessed to him, but he pointed 
out that police had never matched the bloody handprints in the 
basement to Leo Frank. In 1913 people who were arrested were not 
automatically fingerprinted, so Jim Conley had never been printed. 
Smith had attempted several times to take the mans fingerprints to 
compare them with the prints on the basement door, but Conley 
always resisted. 

Smith had not been in court while Conley testified, at Dorsey's 
request. When he later read Conley's trial testimony, Smith was 
stunned. Having spoken to his client a good deal, Smith saw that 
the man who read newspapers avidly (especially the ones with 
articles about him) and who discussed the news and the trial with his 
attorney had disguised his true intelligence on the stand to win over 
the jury. He presented himself as the simple black man that the white 
jury would most expect to see and would most easily believe. In jail 
Conley often spoke articulately, yet on the stand, he had used simple 
words and a more familiar black dialect. 

In addition to listening to Smith, considering correspondence 
with other attorneys, interviewing people involved in the 
proceedings, and examining the case in detail, Governor Slaton 
also read his mail. He received over one hundred thousand letters 
from citizens and statesmen all over the United States requesting 
clemency. Even children like Marjorie Smith, of Loudonville, Ohio, 
had written: 

/ heard of Leo Frank in the press. 

He does not look guilty there. 

I am only ten years old, but I knoio something about 
the ways of men, how they treat their wives when they are 


I am not old as you know, but for my sake release Leo 

Yours, truly, 
Marjorie Smith 
P.S. Write soon. 

The world outside of Georgia seemed solidly in support of Leo 
Frank. But Slaton also received numerous letters from Georgians 
demanding that he let the sentence of the court stand. The governor 
considered both evidence and public opinion before making up 
his mind. 

Saturday afternoon, June 19, 1915, Slaton sat down to write a 
twenty-nine-page document explaining his findings. He carefully 
laid out the facts of the case, both those that seemed to incriminate 
Leo and those that appeared to exonerate him. And he described 
his own careful research at the pencil factory. The governor ended 
by saying that there was considerable new evidence that had never 
been introduced at trial, such as Dr. Harris's admission that the hairs 
on the lathe were not Mary's. Legally, there were strong grounds for 
commuting Leo's death sentence. 

Governor Slaton finished his document on Sunday but delayed 
announcing his decision. Around 1 1:30 that night, he sent the 
sheriff orders to transfer Leo to the Georgia State Prison Farm at 
Milledgeville on the 12:01 train to Macon. The sheriff awakened 
Leo and rushed him to the train station. At Macon they hired a 
local taxi cab company to drive them to the prison farm. A group 
of about ten men surrounded the car, and one told Leo, referring 
to another Georgia town along the railroad route, "You're lucky to 
save your neck. You are lucky you came through Griffin without 
anyone knowing that you were on the train." Throughout the drive, 
Leo seemed to have difficulty believing that he was actually being 
reprieved from execution. He was convinced that cars were following 
him and he'd never reach the prison farm safely. 

The news broke on Monday morning: Governor Slaton had 
commuted Leo's sentence. He explained his decision by writing, 
"The performance of my duty under the Constitution is a matter of 


conscience. The responsibility rests where the power is reposed. ... I 
can endure misconstruction, abuse and condemnation, but I cannot 
stand the constant companionship of an accusing conscience, which 
would remind me in every thought that I, as governor of Georgia, 
failed to do what I thought to be right." 

Georgia erupted in fury. Although newspaper editors and 
politicians outside of the state would praise his courageous decision, 
Hugh Dorsey denounced Governor Slaton and Tom Watson railed 
against him in print, "Our grand old Empire State HAS BEEN 
RAPED!" A mob of four thousand angry people armed with guns 
and bricks and shouting, "Pay the Governor a call!" marched toward 
the governor s mansion, where Slaton waited with his wife and a 
dozen friends who were armed with rifles or pistols, prepared to 
defend the governor. Chief Beavers met the mob with fifty mounted 
officers but stopped only about half of the people. The state militia 
was called out. When the mob arrived at the mansion, they attacked 
the militia with rocks and broken bottles, but the soldiers were able to 
force them back. 

Then word arrived that two hundred people from Marietta were 
on their way. This mob had already hanged Slaton in effigy over a 
sign, "John M. Slaton, King of the Jews and Traitor Governor of 
Georgia." Then they burned the mannequin and headed for Atlanta. 
When the mob saw the militia, however, they stopped short. 

In Newnan another mob hanged effigies of both Slaton and 
Frank, set them on fire, and dragged them through the streets. And 
in Columbus, a mob hanged Slaton in effigy and then used the 
figure for target practice. Rumors flew that a group of 150 people in 
Marietta had met at Mary Phagan's grave. They called themselves the 
Knights of Mary Phagan, and swore to punish both Governor Slaton 
and Leo Frank, no matter how long they had to wait. 

The Marietta Vigilance Committee passed out flyers to Jewish 
storeowners warning them, "You are hereby notified to close up this 
business and quit Marietta by Saturday night, June 26, 1915 or else 
stand the consequences. We mean to rid Marietta of all Jews by the 
above date. You can heed this warning or stand the punishment the 
committee may see fit to deal out to you." 





Governor Slaton was widely attacked for his decision in the Frank case. Th 
sign beneath his hanging effigy reads. "John M. Slaton the King of Jews." 

Atlanta Jewish merchants organized groups to keep watch over 
their shops, attempting to protect them from angry rioters. At 
the same time, they kept their children indoors, afraid they might 
be attacked. Jewish families in Marietta also stayed out of sight, 
hoping the violence would blow over. In Atlanta the mob stormed 
the governors mansion a second time and martial law was briefly 

On June 26, during the inauguration ceremonies for Slaton's 
successor, Nat Harris, a man attacked Slaton with a thick iron pipe. 
Major Polhill Wheeler of the National Guard pulled the man away. 
Shaken, Slaton still managed to speak out at the luncheon honoring 
the new governor. He told the people of Atlanta, 

Honest people may disagree with me, an honest man, but 
we realize that toe must be measured by our consciences. 
Two thousand years ago another Governor [Pontius 
Pilate] ivashed his hands of a case and turned a jew 
[Jesus] over to a mob. For two thousand years that 
Governors name has been accursed. If today another Jew 
were lying in his grave because I had failed to do my duty 
I woidd all through life find his blood on my hands and 
would consider myself an assassin through cowardice. 

Once the new governor was in office, John Slaton and his wife left 
Georgia. Several weeks afterward, Mayor James Woodward of Atlanta 
said, "I have been friends with [Jack Slaton], and while I hate to say 
it, I would not advise him to return to Georgia for a year — if ever/ 1 
Saddened by the way his constituents had turned on him, Slaton did 
not return to Georgia for many years, and when he finally returned, 
he never again served in public office. 

Hugh Dorsey, vigorously supported by Tom Watson (who was 
himself elected U.S. senator), would be elected governor of Georgia 
in 1917 by a landslide. 




Leo arrived at the Georgia State Prison Farm at Milledgeville feeling 
ill, and wrote Lucille immediately to assure her he was getting 

My dear Honey: 

I received several letters today & several wires. I expect 
that you are a trifle "under the weather" over the storm 
through which we have passed. It has indeed been an 
ordeal for both of us my darling but in time both of us 
will be happy. My health is improving though my cold 
is still with me. My appetite too is improving. After that 
which I have gone through, it will take some time before 
I gain my poise & physical balance. I will let you & my 
parents know just when it will be best for you to come to 
see me for the first time. . . . 

With much love to all & a large share for you, I am 

Your loving husband 


Once his health improved, Leo was issued the striped prison 
uniform that identified him as the lowest grade prisoner and became 
known simply as Convict No. 965. He quickly settled into a routine 
that was almost a relief after his long months in the tower. Working 
and exercising regularly was a definite improvement after his 
confinement. Friends and family sent him food and supplies, from 
stationery and stamps to a gramophone and audio recordings, and 
his parents wrote him often. Nearly every envelope contained a letter 
about the case from his father, an affectionate letter from his mother 
about friends and family, and a much scrawled and blotted note from 
his niece, Eleanore, usually along the lines of: 

Dear uncle Leo and aunt Lucille, 

I send you many kisses from me & brother Robert. 

Your niece, 

After he finished his prison chores, Leo would write letters. He 
wrote to friends and to acquaintances who supported his appeals, 
assuring them that the commutation would give him the opportunity 
to pursue his quest for justice. Leo was particularly touched by the 
youngsters who wrote to him. Soon after his arrival in Milledgeville, he 
received a telegram from Jesse Berkovitz of Tuscaloosa, Alabama: 

I congratulate you and the governor of Georgia. I hope 
the truth will be found out and you will some day be 
free. I am 1 1 years old and have read the papers and 
cant believe you guilty. 

Leo wrote back to Jesse on July 6: 

My dear little fiend, 

Allow me to thank you for your telegram of June 21. I 
was profoundly touched by your tender thought of me. 
It surely can not be long before I am fee and vindicated, 
and right and innocence come into their oiun. 


With the assurance of my every good wish, I am, 

cordially yours, 
Leo M. Frank 

Leo believed what he wrote to Jesse. He 
confidently expected to win a new trial and be 
exonerated in the future. He anticipated returning to 
work and wrote often to Herbert Schiff, who was now 
acting as superintendent at the pencil factory, asking 
about production and questioning activities such as 
taking inventory. 

Leo treasured Lucilles frequent visits, even though 
they could see each other only in the presence of a 
guard. When she wasn't visiting, he wrote her daily. 

My own: 

I trust that you arrived home safely after a 
pleasant trip. I did so much enjoy having you 
with me. Your presence was a tonic and an 
inspiration. I look forward to your next visit here 
to me. 

But in less than a month, Leos routine in the 
prison farm would be interrupted, not by the news 
that he had won a new trial but by an unexpected 
attack on the night of July 17, 1915. While Leo slept, another 
prisoner, J. William Creen, slashed Leos throat with a butchers 
knife — something no prisoner should have been able to obtain. 

Leo nearly bled to death before two other prisoners who 
happened to be doctors were able to stitch the severed jugular vein 
and close the wound. Dr. G. D. Compton, the prison doctor, arrived 
about fifteen minutes later, but that would have been too late without 
the quick action of the other men. 

When he recovered enough to speak, Leo told the doctor, "If I 
am going to die, I am not afraid. Nothing stands between me and 
God. I hope that the man who attacked me will be forgiven." As if to 

1 12 


prison hospital ward in the summer of 1915. 

himself, he whispered, "I guess they have got me now." 

Lucille was called around 1 A.M. and rushed to her husband s side. 
She wrote, "He's so weak, but so brave. He looks at me and smiles 
such a dear smile. When I came into the room he could barely make 
himself understood but he whispered 'Angel/" She sat by his side all 
night, holding his hand and fanning him. 

Tom Watson lost no time in celebrating the attack and viciously 
taunted Leo in his magazine by claiming, "The butcher-knife used 
had been in operation during the day killing hogs'" This idea that a 
knife used for hog killing might be used to cut a Jew's throat was a 
cruel mockery of the Jewish dietary prohibition against eating pork. 


1 13 

tlWiil ilii.'! 




ATLANTA. ISA.. SfNLUV MutfNIMS, .jl.-IA l.-\ I'Mo. I OKTV-KHjHT PAOi:«. 


Grave Element Is Added 
By Attack on the Orduna 
To the Strained Relations 
Of America and Germany 

Desperately Wounded by FelloW-Prisoner 

Bhou d the First Reports 
Be Confirmed by Official 
Investigation the Incident 
WiD Greatly Influence the 
President and Cabinet in 
Formulating Next Step 
Regarding the Activities 
of German Submarines. 


[Washington Is Shocked by 
Attack on Vessel After 
InfoiKntion From Berlin 
Tha: the Submarine Com- 
manders Had Been Warn- 
ed to Exercise Great Care. 
I, ent [ncreuea Cneasi- 
ne*s Felt Since L t Ger- 
._ i Mats Failed to Give 
Assurance* Asked by the 
United States. 



Torpedo Fired by German 
Submarine Churned the 
Water Ten Feet Behind 
the Liner's Rudder. 


Twenty-Two Americans on 
the Ship — Baroness Rosei 
kr;uit.T, Formerly Miss 
Rebie Lowe, of Atlanta, on 
Board With Her Husband. 
Thri:'" \ St/oty of LinerV; 


The Season 
of Change 


t Vast Movement f-; E. 

by Germany ;md 
■ Wliith Ha:', (or Objert th 

] icin: ■ .if the Cs 



Kienr.h Line l, li 
ms All AttAd 
l ReptifowJ. 


Jugular Vein Severed 
Partially, Has Slight 
Chance For Recovery 

Attacked by William Crecn, Convicted Mur- 
derer, at 11:10 Las.1 Night. Frank's Condition 
Is Critical, According to Prison Officials. 
Was Asleep in Prison Dormitory When Crecn 
Hushed Upon Him — Physicians Sew Up the 
Wound and Operation May Save Life. 


Crecn Made Attack With Butcher Knife Smug- 
gled Into Prison — Rushed Upon Him in Dark. 
Frank, Though Weak and Sinking Slowly, Re- 
tains Consciousness arid Direct Physicians 
How to Stop Flow of Blood Crecn Confesses, 
and Says He Is Sorry. 

"At Peace With God, Ready 
To Die," Says Leo M. Frank, 
Wants Assailant Pardoned 

MliledgoviUo, Ga., July 16.— At 3 o'clock this mom 
ing Dr. Compton, the priaon surgeon, stated th>it Fr.UL:':, 
chanceg for recovery arc sli shi. 

"There is danger of blood poisoning," said the doctor. 

"There Is danger of the sliCchas la th« jugular vein 
i lipping, either one of which might civutio death." 

Mflledgevllle, Ga., July 17.-1*0 M. Frank, sorting 
a life Imprisonment rentonce for tho murder of Mary 
Phagan, a M-year-old Atlanta factory girl, was attacked 
and his throat cut by William Creen, a fellow prisoner, at 
the state prison farm here. Physicians announced late to- 
night that the wounded man's condition wu ■nriotut, hut 
tltat ho had it chance to recover, 

The attack on Frank was made while- lie was sleeping 
in tho prison dormitory in company with the other iu- 
BcitU*. Tho knife used m made of ;i file and had been 
used by tho prisoners in killing hoga during tho day. 
Frank's throat was cut for a distance of several inches 
and the jugular vein partially sevcrvtl. 

Some animosity hzz been thown Fr;vnk nince he ar- 
rived at tho state prison firm after his death senteuoo 
was commuted to life imprisonment, but the prison oili- 
cials caid tonight that they had not thought for h.t\ ins tent 
that an attack would bs on him. 

William Croon, t5 years old. who is doing a hfo term 
from Columbus, On., on a charge of murder, hu canfesfed 
to cutting Frank's throat. Crecn hits boon put in a 

Doctors completed sewing up the wound in Frank's 
throat at 1:15 o'clock UiU morning. They had joined tho 
jugular vein and thoy believed the operation w*j success- 
ful. Frank was taken to the hospital, lie was stJU 

Tin- IfijmUu of til- prison (xvjnpv una Ini^e room at 
Bight, a sort <if a tjorpdiery, where Hi... mrlcSrcit of rules 
;ir.> observed by the pri.^irin. All a-.- M„\u,{ the fre*. 
dnm ..i tb>- floor until h o'clock, hut ait. r that hour :i pri». 


The attack on Frank tnni 
j»i inrd hnd time to h d 

The attack on Leo Frank in prison was a bigger headline than a German U-boat attack 
on the British cruise ship the Orduna in the early part of World War I (1914-1918). 

Creen, however, told authorities that he had slipped the knife 
from the kitchen and hidden it in his cot. At first he said he had been 
called from "one on high" to kill Leo but later said, "I felt that as long 
as he was here there was danger of the prison being attacked. I was 
afraid the guards and the people making the attack would shoot at 
each other and people would be killed, so I came to the conclusion 
that it was my duty to save the people from the danger to which 
Franks presence exposed them/' 

Several days later, Leo asked Dr. Compton if he thought he would 
live. When the doctor assured him that he would, Leo said, "I am 
going to live. I must live. I must vindicate myself." 

His courage and determination inspired the friends who had 
supported him all along. Herbert Haas wrote to Lucille that Leo's 
"every action is but a credit to his friends, and that I am proud to 
know a man with the character and stamina of Leo." 

At first Lucille hired nurses to be with him around the clock. As 
he improved, she took over the nursing job. Leo's humor returned 
along with the confidence that he would soon have the opportunity 
to continue seeking justice. He wrote to his mother: 

Just a few words to let you know that I am improving 
daily & that my dear Lucille is well & on the job. We let 
the night nurse go & the day nurse will take her place, 
dear Lucille holding the fort in the daytime. 

I hope you did not yesterday or today hear the rumor I 
heard — viz [namely]: that I was dead. I want to firmly 
and decisively deny that rumor. I am alive by a big 



Shortly after John Slaton left Georgia, several men in authority 
got together in Marietta to discuss what they should do about 
the commutation of Leo Franks sentence. These were not rough, 
uneducated countrymen but men who represented Georgia's finest 
families and greatest statesmen: a former governor, a former mayor, 
and several active political figures. 

These powerful men made their plans and then looked for 
other men to carry them out. They selected a merchant, a lawyer, 
and the man who ran the county convict camp to be in charge. 
The group began looking for others to assist them. This was fairly 
straightforward. A man would simply approach a person he'd like 
to draft (many of them Knights of Mary Phagan) and ask him if he 
wanted to participate. If he declined, there were no hard feelings. If 
he accepted, he was one of them. 

The group wanted to keep things orderly, so they were looking 
for certain types of men. They especially wanted anyone with law 
enforcement experience and individuals with particular skills. For 
example, one man owned a garage that could get cars in shape, while 
another was an electrician. Eventually, the group came to include 
sheriffs, deputies, police officers, two bankers, Mary Phagan's uncle, 
and the mayor of Marietta. 

One of the planners described the participants as men "whose 
worth was known collectively and individually, who were resolved to 
bear any burden and go through with their plans at any cost." Their 
scheme was to contact officials at the Georgia State Prison Farm at 


Milledgeville in advance 
so they would be able to 
enter and leave without 
doing any damage, remove 
the prisoner with dignity 
but with firmness, and take 
Leo Frank to Marietta in 
Cobb County where they 
would finally carry out the 
sentence of the jury. 

On August 16, 1915, 
seven automobiles left 
Marietta carrying this 
group of men. They left at 
different times, so nobody 
would notice them, and 
then met up with one 
another. The cars reached 
the prison farm around 
9 P.M. where "Yellow Jacket" 
Brown, the electrician, 
was waiting for them. He 
promptly cut nearly all the 
towns phone lines. 

At the prison, an 
inmate heard the cars 
on the prison farm road. 
Aware that threats had 
been made against their 
famous prisoner, he asked 
the guards to send Leo to 
safety. But one of the prison 
officials who had been 
contacted in advance told 
the man it was probably 
just joyriders. 


Not all of the men involved in the planning 
and lynching of Leo Frank have yet been 
identified, but those whose names are 
known are: 


i former governor of 

police officer 

former mayor of 
i*jni]:]:iii current mayor of Marietta 

_ former Cobb County sheriff 
Cobb County deputy sheriff 
Cobb County deputy 

^superior court 




in charge of the 
Cobb County chain gang 

Georgia general assemblyman 
Cobb County sheriff 





| Mary Phagan's uncle 
_ manufacturer 
garage owner, serviced the cars 
[JJ coal yard operator 
taxi driver 
wannM physician 

~| lawyer 
banker, helped fund the 

| farmer 








1 railroad freight agent, provided 



lawyer and 



mule trader 

The men from Marietta had a map of the farm and wasted no time 
in seizing and disarming the warden and the superintendent, finding 
Leo, and hauling him out of bed. Leo asked permission to dress, but 
someone in the group told him he wouldn't need clothes where he was 
going. They handcuffed him and dragged him in only his nightshirt to 
one of the waiting cars. Then one of the men told the prison staff that 
they were taking Leo to Marietta, where they would hang him over 
Mary Phagans grave, and the caravan drove away. 

When the warden tried to call for assistance, he discovered the 
phone lines had been cut. It took several hours to find an undamaged 
phone line and place a call to Atlanta. By the time the police had 
been notified, it was too late to stop the lynch party. 

While they drove to Marietta, several of the men in the car 
that carried Leo tried to get him to confess. One asked him 
if he had killed the Phagan girl, but he said nothing. Another 
man asked, "Is there anything you would like to say before 
your execution?" 

Leo said, "No," his voice so low they could barely hear it over the 

As they drove through Alpharetta, about twenty miles northeast 
of Marietta, they were joined by Judge Newt Morris. By daybreak 
they had reached Frey's Gin, two miles east of Marietta. Although 
they had claimed they were going to hang Leo over Mary's grave, they 
had probably planned to hang him in this spot from the beginning. 
It was owned by Sheriff Frey, one of the groups organizers, so they 
wouldn't be disturbed. Sheriff Frey had, in fact, tied the noose 
himself. And the location faced the house where Mary Phagan had 
been born and lived until her mother moved the family to Atlanta. 

The lynchers led Leo to an oak tree. One of them later said that 
"he behaved throughout with a calmness and dignity and an utter 
lack of panic." While one of the men brought up a table and looped 
the hanging rope over a branch of the tree, Leo asked permission to 
write to Lucille. Someone gave him pencil and paper, and he wrote 
a brief note in a language the men didn't recognize. Some thought 
it was Yiddish, but it may have been German. No one knows the 
contents of that note to this day 


According to the lynchers, Leo said, "I think more of my wife and 
my mother than I do of my own life." His lynchers believed he meant 
that he thought so highly of the women in his life that he would not 
shame them by confessing to murder. But perhaps he meant that he 
honored them because they had consistently believed in his innocence 
and had not abandoned him, and their love and loyalty was worth 
more than whatever happened to him. Or he might simply have 
meant that he loved his wife and mother and was able to face his 
death knowing he had been a good husband and son. 

The lynchers tied Leo's feet, lifted him onto the table, and 
wrapped a piece of cloth around his lower body, since he was only 
wearing the nightshirt. Leos last request was that they return his 
wedding ring to Lucille. 

At 7:05 A.iM., Judge Newt Morris repeated the sentence of the 
court that Leo should be hanged by the neck until dead. Then the 
judge kicked the table out from under him. 

Leo did not die immediately, because the fall from the table was 
not great enough to snap his neck. Instead, he suffocated over some 
minutes, struggling so desperately that the slash in his neck opened 
and he bled onto his shirt. Confident that their job was done, the 
lynchers drove away from the scene, leaving Sheriff Frey to find the 
body later. Deputy Sheriff Hicks (one of the lynchers) received a 
phone call with the official notification. 

More than a thousand people swarmed to the scene within 
hours, eager for a sight of Leo's body — many eager for photographs 
and souvenirs as well. The atmosphere was somewhere between 
celebration, vindication, and religious rapture. The crowd swelled 
to three thousand, and its rowdier members wanted to rip the body 
down and desecrate it. 

Aware of this possibility, Judge Morris returned to the scene to 
prevent any violence. He was afraid that such impassioned attacks on 
the body might undo the dignity of his groups lynching, which he 
viewed as the most appropriate way to carry out the jury's verdict, given 
the circumstances. Robert Howell, a rowdy hothead who wished he had 
been included in the lynching party, shouted at Leo's body, "You wont 
murder any more little innocent girls! We've got you now!!" 




Leo Frank was lynched on the morning of August 16, 1915. 



I ■ 






Frank's death brought with it a business 
in souvenirs to commemorate the 
lynching, including postcards [above and 
at left). The card on the left reads "Leo 
M. Frank lynched for criminal assault 
on little Mary Phagan, near Marietta, 
Georgia, 1915." 



Judge Morris tried to calm him down while the undertakers men 
drove up, but someone sliced through the rope and Leo's body fell to 
the ground. As if waiting for that signal, Howell and the crowd pressed 
in upon him. Roger Winter wrote in the Journal, "Again and again, as 
a man grinds the head of a snake under his heel, did the man drive his 
heel into the face of Leo M. Frank, grinding the black hair into the dirt 
and dead black leaves until the crowd, stricken silent and motionless, 
could hear the mans heel as it made a crunching sound." 

Finally, Judge Morris was able to stop Howell and remove the 
body. But the undertakers wagon barely made it to Marietta's city 
limits before it was chased down by several cars. Fortunately, one of 
them was the judge's. He snatched the body and placed it in his back 
seat while his driver sped away from Marietta toward Atlanta. By the 
next day, picture postcards of Leo's body hanging from the noose, as 
well as cut pieces from his shirt and from the rope, were selling so fast 
that the police announced, "Any person selling articles represented as 
souvenirs of the lynching of Leo Frank must have a city license." 

People across the nation were outraged. John Slaton said, "Every 
man who engaged in the lynching should be hanged, for he is an 

Heartbroken, Lucille brought Leo's body to Brooldyn where an 
undertaker would try to rebuild Leo's ruined face. Reporters attempted 
to question the family, but Leo's mother said simply, "My son belongs 
to me. I want a quiet funeral." The private funeral was held at Mount 
Carmel Cemetery on Friday morning, August 20, 1915. Leo's mother 
cried out several times for her boy during the ceremony, and Lucille 
wept for her "angel" and nearly stumbled at the cemetery. 

Back in Marietta, the Knights of Mary Phagan were congratulated 
in print by Tom Watson, although officials vowed to find the lynchers. 
Governor Harris pledged to do everything in his power "to see to it 
that the members of this mob receive fitting punishment for their 
crime." But no one turned in a single man. According to the New York 
Times, "The word mob does not seem descriptive, for these men did 
not display the ordinary characteristics of a mob. Lynching mobs are 
usually composed of riff-raff, but this one consisted of leading citizens 
of the community, men prominent in business and social circles." 



Pallbearers carry Leo Frank's coffin in New York. 

A Cobb County grand jury claimed they could not indict anyone for the 
lynching because they were unable to identify anyone connected with it. 
Seven members of the lynching party sat on the grand jury panel. 

Not one of the lynchers would ever be arrested or punished, and 
none would even be publicly identified until decades later. 

In the wake of Leo s lynching, his supporters were more vocal 
than ever. It was too late to help Leo, but it was high time to ensure 


that such injustice never happened to another Jew. The American 
Jewish Committee worked with other supporters to form the Jewish 
Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B nth, which exists to this day. The 
groups mandate is to fight anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, 
defend democratic ideals, and protect civil rights in the United States 
and abroad. 

Unfortunately, Leo's detractors became more vocal than ever as 
well. Invigorated by Watsons praise and his rhetoric condemning 
Jews, Catholics, and African Americans, the Knights of Mary 
Phagan reestablished the Ku Klux Klan. Originally formed during 
Reconstruction to intimidate Yankees and freed blacks, the Klan had 
become increasingly violent until many southerners joined federal 
authorities in calling for it to be shut down. This 1915 revitalization of 
the organization lasted considerably longer than the original Klan and 
was more violent. It became so powerful in the South that it almost took 
control of the Democratic Party in 1924. Watson proudly supported the 
Klan, claiming that in Georgia he was "the King of the Ku Klux." 

Ironically, it was the family of some of these Klansmen who 
finally revealed the identity of the men who had lynched Leo Frank. 
For years, their names remained a well-known secret — well known in 
that everyone in Marietta knew who they were but secret in that no 
one in the legal system could identify them. But in the 1990s, Mary 
Phagan s great-grandniece made a list of the lynchers. She based it on 
information spontaneously volunteered by people who told her, when 
they found out who she was, that their father or grandfather or uncle 
had been among the group. Mary Phagan Keans list appeared on the 
Internet on January 1, 2000 — without her knowledge or consent. 

Long before that happened, however, Lucille herself had died. 
She had returned to Atlanta to be with her parents after her husband s 
funeral There, as the lynchers had promised, she was given Leos 
wedding ring. One of them delivered it to a newspaperman, who 
brought it to her. 

Lucille lived the rest of her life in Atlanta, maintaining that Leo 
was innocent. Until her death in 1957, she signed her name proudly 
as Mrs. Leo M. Frank. 



Knltfus of the Ku KtuxKJLan, 


Stone Mountain, Largest Solid Stone in the World, one mile irom 

Base to Summit. On its highest pinnacle the Knights of the 

Ku Khix Klan Organized at Midnight. Nov. 25th. 1915. 

Got w. J SIMMONS. 

Founder and 







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Frank's lynching led to the 
reemergence of the Ku Klux Klan 
[above) and the founding of the 
Anti-Defamation League (/eft), 
two of the most important groups 
in the history of twentieth-century 
civil rights. 


On March 6, 1982, nearly seventy years after Mary Phagans murder, 
the last eyewitness signed an affidavit and prepared to return with it 
to Atlanta. Alonzo Mann, the office boy who had cried back in 1913 
when he brought Leo the newspaper announcing his forthcoming 
arrest, stated: 

In 1913 I was the office boy 
for Leo M. Frank, who ran the 
National Pencil Company, That 
was the year Leo Frank was 
convicted of the murder of Mary 
Phagan. I was fourteen years 
old at the time. I was called on 
as a witness in the murder trial. 
At that time I was put on the 
witness stand y but I did not tell 
all that I knew. I was not asked 
questions about what I knew. 
I did not volunteer. If I had 
revealed all I knew it would have 
cleared Leo Frank and would 
have saved his life. 


Alonzo went on to describe his work at the pencil factory and 
then said that when his mother hadn't shown up to meet him 
before the parade on Confederate Memorial Day, he'd decided to 
go back to work. In a tone reminiscent of the shock and fear he 
must have felt when he was fourteen, the eighty-three-year-old 
man continued: 

Inside the door, I ivalked toward the stairwell I looked 
to my right and I was confronted by a scene I will 
remember vividly until the day I die. 

Jim Conley ivas standing betiueen the trapdoor that 
led to the basement and the elevator shaft. I have an 
impression that the trapdoor was partially open, but my 
eyes were fixed on Jim Conley. 

He had the body of Mary Phagan in his arms. I didnt 
knoiu it was Mary Phagan. I only knew it was a girl 

At that moment I couldnt tell if she was alive. She 
appeared to be unconscious. . . . 

Jim Conley turned around toward me. He either 
heard my footsteps coming or he sensed I was behind 
him. He wheeled on me and in a voice that was low but 
threatening and frightening to me, he said: 

"If you ever mention this III kill you. " 

I turned and took a step or two — possibly three or four 
steps — up toward the second floor, but I . . . was fearful 
that the office might be closed, so I turned back toward 
Conley. I wanted to get out of there quick. He got to 
within eight feet of me. He reached out as if to put one 
arm or hand on me. I ran out of the front door and raced 
away from that building 

I related to my mother what I had seen there at the 
pencil factory. She insisted that I not get involved. She 
told me to remain silent. My mother loved me. She knew 
Conley had threatened to kill me. She didnt want our 
family s name to be involved in controversy or for me to 
be subjected to any publicity. My father supported her in 


telling me to remain silent. My mother repeated to me 
over and over not to tell She never thought Leo Frank 
would be convicted. Of course, she was wrong. . . . 

Leo Frank was convicted by lies heaped on lies. It 
wasn't just Conley who lied. . . . 

At last I am able to get this off my heart. 

I believe it will help people to understand that courts 
and juries make mistakes. They made a mistake in the 
Leo Frank case. 

Jim Conley had already admitted to carrying Marys body to the 
basement, but he had said he'd done so on Leo Franks orders and 
with Leo's help. He'd also claimed that they had taken the body from 
the second floor to the basement in the elevator. Alonzos testimony 
placed Jim Conley on the first floor without Leo, carrying Marys 
body by himself. Alonzo also swore he had seen Conley taking 
Marys body toward the trapdoor and the steps that led down to 
the basement, not riding down in the elevator with the body. These 
were two huge discrepancies in Jim Conley s stories that could have 
exonerated Leo and convicted the sweeper. 

Alonzo's uncertainty about whether Mary was already dead 
or still alive matched the point raised during Leo's many appeals, 
that there were "cinders and saw-dust in Mary Phagan's nose and 
mouth, drawn in in the act of breathing." If Jim Conley had 
knocked Mary unconscious when she came down the stairs and 
refused to give him any of her pay, then thrown her down to the 
basement and murdered and robbed her there, then she would 
indeed have had sawdust and cinders in her airway. If Leo had 
murdered her outside his office as the State of Georgia had argued, 
then her airway would have been clean. Alonzo Mann submitted 
to two separate polygraph tests to confirm that he was telling the 
truth. He passed them both. 

On the basis of this new testimony, the American Jewish 
Committee, the Atlanta Jewish Federation, and the Anti-Defamation 
League applied for a pardon from the Georgia State Board of Pardons 
and Paroles. While there was considerable sympathy from many 


SUNDAY. Match 7. 1982 

The TENNESSEAN s p« ia| News Secti ° n 

An Innocent Man Was Lynched 


1 3 Words Shook History 

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jn en lh< linl floor of National Pencil Co. 

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Innocent Man Was Lynched 

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Leo Frank and Mary Phagan continue 
to make headlines almost seventy 
years after their deaths. The Nashville 
Tennessean published the statement 
of Alonzo Mann, who claimed Jim 
Conley had killed Mary Phagan. 

southerners for this request, some Georgians argued passionately 
against it. Former Georgia Court of Appeals judge Randall Evans 
insisted the evidence against Leo Frank had been overwhelming. 
He attacked Governor Slatons commutation as a "rape of the 
judicial process" and said the request for a posthumous pardon was 
"completely ridiculous." 

Although the board considered this application, the members 
were limited in how much research they could actually do into the 
original case. Hugh Dorsey had diligently saved all of his notes 
and even the forensic evidence from his most famous case, but his 
records disappeared shortly after his death in 1948. On December 
22, 1983, despite Alonzo's appearance in person before the state 
board, the application was rejected on the grounds that it did not 
prove Leo's innocence. 

Alonzo died in March of 1985, but the Anti-Defamation League 
filed a new application for pardon. Members of the board were 
troubled that the case had never fully been resolved because Leo had 
been lynched before he was able to make further efforts to prove his 
innocence. They also admitted that the State of Georgia had failed to 
protect the prisoner in its care. On March 11, 1986, the board issued 
a final statement, concluding: 

Without attempting to address the question of guilt 
or innocence, and in recognition of the states failure 
to protect the person of Leo M. Frank and thereby 
preserve his opportunity for continued legal appeal of 
his conviction, and in recognition of the states failure 
to bring his killers to justice, the State Board of Pardons 
and Paroles, in compliance with its constitutional and 
statutory authority, hereby grants to Leo M. Frank a 

Neither the board nor any court was ever able to consider the 
possibility that Jim Conley was the sole murderer, as Alonzo Mann, 
William Smith, Will Green, Governor Slaton, and even Judge Roan 
ultimately believed. After Conley served his one-year sentence for 


accessory, he spent the rest of his life in and out of prison, finally 
disappearing in the 1960s and presumed dead. In 1959 attorney 
A. L. Henson published his memoirs and claimed that while Jim 
Conley had been his client, the man had confessed to him that he 
had struggled with a girl in the pencil factory but had then blanked 
out. When Conley came to himself, he was in the basement and the 
girl was dead. Henson had not spoken out earlier because of lawyer- 
client privilege. 

Some passionate analysts of the case continue to vehemently 
argue Conley s guilt versus Leos guilt. Mary Phagans great- 
grandniece, Mary Phagan Kean, still insists that Leo "is not a martyr, 
he is a murderer." But most people on both sides agree that Leo never 
got a fair trial. Even with the perspective of many decades of elapsed 
time, however, many people remain unsure of what really happened. 
A number of them have written their own versions of the story in 
their struggle to explore this troubling case and find its truths. 

Ward Greene was the first of several writers to tackle the case in 
his 1936 novel, Death in the Deep South. In the late 1930s, They Wont 
Forget opened in movie theaters, and in 1988, a television miniseries 
aired written by Larry McMurtry, called The Murder of Mary Phagan. 
This film still turns up occasionally on cable channels. In 2000 
playwright Alfred Uhry and composer-lyricist Jason Robert Brown 
wrote a musical for Broadway about the case, called Parade. And in 
2009, Ben Loeterman's documentary titled The People v. Leo Frank 
aired on PBS with a world premiere in Cobb County, where Leo was 
lynched. All of these writers agree that Leo Frank did not get a fair 
trial. They have all tried to make sense out of what happened to Mary 
and Leo, yet questions persist. 

Did the jury convict Leo Frank on the basis of the evidence? Or 
was public opinion prejudiced against Leo because he was a Jewish, 
college-educated, well-paid Yankee who had come into this southern 
city on the wave of northern industrialization? Would his fate have 
been the same if he had been an Atlanta Jew instead of a Yankee Jew? 
Did he pay with his Yankee blood for the devastation of Atlanta at the 
hands of William T. Sherman during the "Recent Unpleasantness"? 
Or was Leo Frank convicted by the anti-Semitic sentiment that ran so 


strong during his trial? How far will good citizens go down the path 
toward violence because they hate people who belong to a particular 
religion or ethnic group? 

Perhaps the most troubling question is why so many people 
involved in the case lied, particularly so many factory employees. 
They admitted they lied, and some said they were persuaded or even 
coerced by Hugh Dorsey but what about the others? Was it merely 
because they liked the idea of so many people paying attention to 
them and respecting them? Did they give in to peer pressure? Were 
they caught up in some sort of emotional mass hysteria? Did they 
even convince themselves that they were telling the truth or perhaps 
that their lies were unimportant because surely Leo Frank was guilty 
or he wouldn't be in court? Whatever the reason, some of them were 
never able to let go of their belief that Mary Phagans killer had, 
indeed, been hanged in Marietta. 

That mass hysteria or prejudice or delusion continued to grip 
Atlanta even after World War I. In 1922 journalist Pierre Van 
Paassen tried to publish the fact that the photos of the bite marks 
on Marys shoulder did not match the photos taken of Leo s teeth 
and that Dorsey had known but suppressed the information to get a 
conviction. Van Paassen received a note warning him to "lay off the 
Frank case if you want to keep healthy" 

Van Paassen realized how deeply sentiments still ran one 
morning when a "large automobile drove up alongside of me and 
forced me into the track of a fast-moving streetcar coming from the 
opposite direction. My car was demolished, but I escaped." Seven 
years had passed since Leo's lynching, and World War I had changed 
the face of the world more than Mary Phagans friends at the factory 
could have imagined, yet many citizens of Atlanta still refused to 
consider that the evidence that convicted Leo Frank was a tissue of 
lies and innuendo. 

Significant changes have been made in the U.S. legal system since 
Leo was convicted. For example, if prosecutors discover exculpatory 
evidence that suggests the accused is innocent, such as the forensic 
evidence of the hair found near Leo's office or the identification of the 
bite marks, they are required to share that evidence with the defense 


under the rules of discovery. But not all prosecutors follow the rules, 
even today. Sometimes they believe so strongly that someone is guilty 
that they suppress evidence that might get in the way of convincing 
a jury to convict the suspect. Or sometimes they abuse the system to 
advance their personal careers. How can a suspect offer a defense if 
the system that protects his or her rights has been corrupted? 

Atlanta's Mayor Woodward called Leo's lynching for Mary 
Phagans murder "a just penalty for an unspeakable crime." But was 
Mary's murder the only unspeakable crime? Wasn't Leo's lynching 
an unspeakable crime also? What about the lies of so many teenage 
witnesses? Or Alonzo Mann's silence? Or the way the entire case 
perverted the U.S. concept of justice? 

It's hard to be certain whether it would have made a difference if 
Alonzo had ignored his mother and spoken out at Leo Frank's trial. 
Perhaps Dorsey would merely have woven the eyewitness account into 
his argument, claiming that the boy had seen only the large African 
American man carrying the body and not noticed the smaller white 
man behind him. The fact that he had not told the truth haunted 
Alonzo all his life, although he said he tried to tell people a few times 
and was always told not to raise the specter of the old case again. 

"I was only 14 years old," Alonzo told reporters in 1982. 
"Nowadays you're practically a man at that age. But things were 
different then. ... I was just a boy I was scared. I knew that if Jim 
Conley got his hands on me, he would have killed me." If fourteen 
was young enough to be fearful of the consequences of his actions 
and to feel he must obey his mother, even though that meant lying 
on the witness stand, Alonzo was sixteen by the time Governor Slaton 
investigated the verdict. How old do you have to be to make up your 
mind whether or not to speak out, despite what your parents tell you 
and regardless of the consequences? 

To weigh the issues in the case of Mary Phagan's murder and 
Leo Frank's lynching is to look deep into the darker side of the 
U.S.: the painful injustice of the nation's "justice" system; the bitter 
resentment of history's memory; the outrage of ambition; the stark 
realities of racial, religious, and geographic prejudice; and the fear 
that standing against society's wrongs will demand too high a cost to 


pay. At the same time, it is impossible to look at this case and not also 
see the tender loyalty of Leo s wife; the admiration of his lawyers and 
friends; and the determination of so many legal minds to overturn his 
conviction, simply because they could not stand by and witness such 
injustice. In the end, perhaps the final verdict on this case must be, as 
Governor John Slaton said, a matter of conscience. 


In this day of fading ideals and 
disappearing land marks, little Mary Phagans 
heroism is an heirloom, than which there is 
nothing more precious among the old red hills 
of Georgia. 

Sleep, little girl; sleep in your humble 
grave but if the angels are good to you in the 
realms beyond the trouble sunset and the 
clouded stars, they will let you know that 
many an aching heart in Georgia beats for you, 
and many a tear, from eyes unused to weep, 
has paid you a tribute too sacred for words. 

-Mary Phagans epitaph on her tombstone 
(donated by Tom Watson) 

Leo Frank (1884-1915) 

Wrongly accused, Falsely convicted, 

Wantonly murdered 

Pardoned, 1986 

Remembered on the 80th yahrzeith, 1995/5755 

By the Jewish Community of Cobb County 

-private marker at the site 
of Leo Frank's lynching 


Leo M. Frank: twenty-nine-year-old 
superintendent of the National Pencil 
Company; accused of murdering Mary 

Lucille Frank: Leo Frank's wife 

Moses Frank: Leo Frank's uncle; owner of 
the National Pencil Company 

Rachel and Rudolph Frank: Leo Frank's 

Emil and Josephine Selig: Lucille Frank's 
parents, in whose home Leo and Lucille 
Frank lived 

Henry Harris: secretary of the Georgia Board 
of Health; conducted autopsy of Mary 

J. W. Hurt: Fulton County medical examiner; 
participated in autopsy of Mary Phagan's 

Louis Marshall: attorney and president of 
the American Jewish Committee; took Leo 
Frank's case before the Supreme Court 

Leonard S. Roan: judge; presided over Leo 
Frank's murder trial 

Luther Z. Rosser: defense attorney for Leo 

William Smith: attorney for Jim Conley 


Frannie Coleman: Mary Phagan's mother 

John W. Coleman: Mary Phagan's stepfather 

Mary Phagan: thirteen-year-old worker at 
the National Pencil Company; murdered at 
the factory on April 26, 1913 


Henry Alexander: handwriting analyst and 
defense attorney for Leo Frank 

Reuben Arnold: defense attorney for Leo 

Paul Donehoo: Fulton County coroner; 
conducted Mary Phagan's inquest 

Hugh Dorsey: Atlanta's solicitor general; 
prosecuted the case against Leo Frank 

Herbert Haas: defense attorney for Leo 
Frank; corporate attorney for the National 
Pencil Company 


James Litchfield Beavers: Atlanta police 

John Black: police detective; first to 
question Leo Frank 

Newport Lanford: chief of detectives in 
Atlanta's police department 

W. W. "Boots" Rogers: police officer 

Harry Scott: Pinkerton detective 

JohnStarnes: police detective 


John M. Slaton: governor of Georgia 

Tom Watson: Georgia politician; published 
anti-Semitic magazines and worked 
against Leo Frank and his supporters 


Robert Barrett: eighteen-year-old factory 

worker; discovered evidence in the metal 


Jim Conley: janitor; prosecution's star 
witness against Leo Frank 

Helen Ferguson: sixteen-year-old factory 
worker and close friend of Mary; testified 
for the prosecution 

Dewey Hewell: sixteen-year-old former 
employee; testified for the prosecution but 
later said that she had been threatened 
and bribed for her testimony 

Grace Hicks: seventeen-year-old worker; 
identified Mary's body 

Magnolia Kennedy: fourteen-year-old 
worker; identified Mary's hair on lathe; 
testified for the defense 

Newt Lee: night watchman; first suspect in 
the murder 

Alonzo Mann: fourteen-year-old office boy 

Lemmie Quinn: foreman 

Herbert Schrff: assistant superintendent 

Monteen Stover: fourteen-year-old worker; 
testified for the prosecution 


Annie Maud Carter: inmate who received 
love letters from Jim Conley; testified that 
Conley confessed to her that he killed Mary 

George Epps: fifteen-year-old newsboy; 
testified that Mary was afraid of Leo Frank 

Will Green: carnival worker; claimed to have 
seen Jim Conley attack Mary 

Minola McKnight: cook forthe Seligs and 
Franks; gave police a statement against 
Leo Frank and then told reporters she had 
been forced to lie 

William Mincey: insurance salesman; 
claimed Jim Conley told him he had 
killed a girl on the afternoon of Mary's 


Britt Craig: reporter for the Atlanta 
Constitution; accompanied police when 
they responded to initial report of Mary's 

Harold Ross: reporter for the Atlanta 
Journal) removed from the police station 
notes found near Mary's body 



April 26, 1913 
April 27, 1913 

April 29, 1913 
April 30, 1913 
May 1,1913 
May 5, 1913 
May 7, 1913 
May 8, 1913 
May 18, 1913 
May 23, 1913 
July 28, 1913 
August 25, 1913 
August 26, 1913 

October 31, 1913 
February 17, 1914 
February 24, 1914 

April 6, 1914 

April 16, 1914 

May 6, 1914 

June 6, 1914 

October 14, 1914 

November 17, 1914 

December 7, 1914 

Mary Phagan is murdered on Confederate Memorial Day. 
Mary Phagan's body is discovered. Newt Lee is arrested. Leo Frank is inter- 
rogated for the first time. 

The funeral of Mary Phagan is held. Leo Frank is arrested. 

Coroner's inquest begins. 

Police arrest and release Jim Conley. 

Mary Phagan's body is exhumed for autopsy. 

Mary Phagan's body is exhumed a second time. 

The inquest concludes. 

Police question Jim Conley. 

The grand jury indicts Leo Frank. 

The trial of Leo Frank begins. 

The jury returns a verdict of guilty. 

Judge Leonard S. Roan sentences Leo Frank to hang for the murder of 
Mary Phagan. 

Judge Roan denies a motion for a new trial. 

Georgia Supreme Court denies a motion for a new trial. 

Jim Conley is convicted of being an accessory after the fact to Mary 
Phagan's murder and sentenced to one year on a chain gang. 

The defense files an extraordinary motion in Fulton County Superior Court 
and asks for a new trial on the basis of new evidence. 

The defense files a motion in Fulton County Superior Court to set aside the 
original guilty verdict 

The Fulton County Superior Court denies a request for new trial. The defense 
appeals to Georgia Supreme Court. 

The Georgia Supreme Court denies a motion to set aside the verdict. The 
defense appeals to the Georgia Supreme Court. 

The Georgia Supreme Court denies appeal on extraordinary motion for a 
new trial. 

The Georgia Supreme Court denies appeal to set aside the original 
guilty verdict. 

U.S. Supreme Court denies a request for review of November 17 Georgia 
Supreme Court ruling. 

December 9, 1914 
December 17, 1914 
December 19, 1914 
December 28,1914 
February 23, 1915 
February 25, 1915 
April 9,1915 
May 10, 1915 
June 8, 1915 
June 20, 1915 
June 22, 1915 
July 17, 1915 

August 16, 1915 

August 17, 1915 
August 20, 1915 
September 2, 1915 
April 23, 1957 
March 6, 1982 

January 4, 1983 
December 22, 1983 
March 19, 1985 
March 11, 1986 

January 1,2000 

Jim Conley is released. 

The defense applies to the U.S. District Court for a writ of habeas corpus. 

The District Court denies a writ of habeas corpus. 

The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear arguments on the issue of due process. 

Judge Leonard S. Roan dies of cancer. 

The Supreme Court begins hearing arguments on Leo Frank's appeal. 

The Supreme Court rejects the appeal. 

Leo Frank's execution is rescheduled for June 22, 1915. 

The Georgia Prison Commission denies petition for clemency. 

Governor John Slaton commutes Frank's sentence to life in prison. 

Armed mobs attack Governor Slaton's home. 

Prisoner William Creen slashes Leo Frank's throat at Georgia State Prison 
Farm. Two prisoners, who are doctors, save Frank's life. 

A mob of twenty-five armed men breaks into Georgia State Prison Farm and 
removes Leo Frank. 

The lynch mob hangs Leo Frank, claiming to be carrying out the jury's verdict. 

Leo Frank is buried in Brooklyn, New York. 

The Cobb County grand jury fails to indict anyone for Leo Frank's lynching. 

Lucille Frank dies in Atlanta. 

Alonzo Mann signs an affidavit asserting Leo Frank's innocence and Jim 
Conley's guilt. 

The Anti-Defamation League applies for a posthumous pardon for Leo Frank. 

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denies the pardon. 

Alonzo Mann dies. 

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles issues a pardon to Leo Frank, 
citing the state's failure to protect him while in custody or bring his killers 
to justice. 

Atlanta librarian Stephen Goldfarb publishes the names on the Internet of 
Leo Frank's lynchers. 



affidavit: a written declaration made under 

appeal: an application to a higher court for 
a ruling orverdictto be reviewed and 

attorney-client privilege: a legal concept 
and the law in most of the United States 
that keeps all communications between 
a client and that person's attorney 

capital: punishable by death 

chain of evidence: also called chain of 
custody; the careful handling and 
documentation of the whereabouts of all 
evidence in an investigation to ensure 
that evidence is not lost, contaminated, 
or tampered with 

circumstantial evidence: evidence that 
indicates the possibility of guilt but does 
not directly prove it 

clemency: mercy or leniency extended by a 
person in authority to a convict 

commute: to change a sentence to a 
less severe one, such as a reduction 
of a death penalty sentence to life 

coroner: a government official whose job is 
to investigate deaths that are not clearly 
due to natural causes. This investigation 
takes place by means of an inquest. 

counsel: a legal adviser such as an attorney 
or advice given by such a person 

exculpatory evidence: evidence that tends 
to show that a defendant is not guilty 

forensic evidence: evidence that is obtained 
by the use of scientific methods 

grand jury: a group of citizens who are 
summoned to decide whether a person 
should be formally charged with a crime 

indict: to formally charge a person with a 
crime. An indictment leads to a trial to 
determine the guilt or innocence of the 
person charged. 

inquest: a legal inquiry, held before a jury 
and led by a coroner, into a suspicious 

jury: a group of citizens who are summoned 
to make a decision in a legal proceeding 

medical examiner: a physician appointed 
by the government to conduct autopsies 
on the bodies of people who have died 
under suspicious circumstances 

motion: a request by an attorney for a 
judge to take a specific action in a legal 

overrule: to reject, in the role of judge, 
the request of an attorney in a legal 

overturn: to reverse the verdict of a lower 
court as the result of a successful appeal 

pardon: to release a convicted person from 
penalty for an offense 

solicitor general: a government official 
who prosecutes cases against accused 

subpoena: an official summons to appear as 
a witness in a legal proceeding 

verdict: the decision of a jury regarding a 
legal matter in a trial, such as the guilt 
or innocence of a person charged with 
a crime 




Carries, Jim. Us and Them: A History of 
Intolerance in America. New York: 
Oxford University Press, 1996. 
Read fourteen cases studies of intoler- 
ance in United States history, from colo- 
nial times through the twentieth century. 

Cohen, Daniel. Yellow Journalism: Scandal, 
Sensationalism, and Gossip in the 
Media. Minneapolis: Twenty-First 
Century Books, 2000. 
Learn about the history of yellow journal- 
ism in the United States and the effects 
of sensational media on public opinion. 

Diner, Hasia R. A New Promised Land: A 
History of Jews in America. New York: 
Oxford University Press, 2003. 
This book chronicles the history of 
Jewish life in America. 

Dudley, William. Mass Media, Farmington 
Hills, Ml: Greenhaven Press, 2005. 
From the Opposing Viewpoints series, 
this book addresses controversial issues 
about mass media and the opposing 
sides of the debates. 

Levine, Ellen S. Catch a Tiger by the Toe. 
New York: Viking, 2005. 
In this historical novel set in the 1950s, 
a thirteen-year-old girl, whose father 
is tried as a Communist during the Red 
Scare, grapples with issues of social 
justice and civil rights. 

Rossel, Seymour. Let Freedom Ring: A History 
of the Jews in the United States. West 
Orange, NJ: Behrman House, 1995. 
Learn more about the history of Judaism 
and ethnic relations in the United States. 

Sharenow, Robert. My Mother the 

Cheerleader. New York: Laura Geringer 
Books, 2007. 

This novel tells a story of a fourteen- 
year-old girl whose mother pulls her 
out of her New Orleans school when 
the school is desegregated in 1960. It 
explores some of the religious, political, 
and race issues that existed in New 


American Jewish Archives 
The American Jewish Archives houses 
historic photos and documents 
significantto the American Jewish 
experience. Followthe links to their 
online exhibit to view part of their 

Anti-Defamation League 

The Anti-Defamation League website features 

news articles relating to anti-Semitism 

and civil rights issues. 

Atlanta History Center 

For a glimpse at Atlanta's history, explore the 

Atlanta History Center's photos of their 


William Breman Jewish Heritage and 

Holocaust Museum 

http :// e bre m a n . o rg/ 

This museum website has more information 
on the history of the Jewish community 
in Georgia, including a description of the 
museum's Leo Frank family document 



To write a book like An Unspeakable Crime is to embark on a journey of research that 
amounts to a detective's following a trail of convoluted clues. One source leads to another 
and then backtracks to a third that tells you something more about the first. The journey 
started simply enough: in 1998 a friend of mine mentioned the Leo Frank case. He assured 
me that I would be interested because my husband often serves as an expert witness in 
murder conviction appeals, and I feel as strongly as he does about the problems with our 
justice system. 

Taking my friend s advice, I read Leonard Dinnerstein's book, The Leo Frank Case (the 
most complete reference at the time, as Steve Oney would not publish his comprehensive 
book, And the Dead Shall Rise, until later in my research journey). I found that I could not 
get the case out of my mind. I listened to the score of Parade, and watched The Murder of 
Mary Phagan on cable, astonished that such a travesty of justice could have been allowed 
to occur. 

The case stayed with me, and when I wrote my novel Tlje Perfect Shot, I used a school 
history project about Leo Frank as the catalyst for my main character's change and growth. 
E-mails from readers told me that the case stayed with them too. It also stayed with my 
wonderful editor, Shannon Barefield, who has worked with me on many books. She en- 
couraged me to consider writing a nonfiction book about it, and because I felt I still had so 
many unanswered questions, I agreed wholeheartedly, 

I searched for source material and was further astounded that so little accurate pub- 
lished material could be found at that time. Several fictionalized accounts of the case had 
been published. Maiy Phagan Kean (Mary Phagan's great-grandniece) had published a 
personal and passionate account of the murder from her family's perspective, and Harry 
Golden had published several accounts of the case from his Jewish perspective. But I 
couldn't find the answers I sought, and I discovered more complications than solutions. I 
wondered why quotations from the trial varied so widely, until I discovered that the origi- 
nal trial transcript had mysteriously disappeared from the courthouse. The only sources 
that survived were incomplete trial citations in the Brief of Evidence that was submitted 
during the appeals and published pamphlets containing edited versions of individual 
lawyers' arguments. I was also surprised that nothing about the case was available for teen 
readers, since it involved so many teenagers. 

Material on the Internet can be unreliable, but I discovered the Georgia Stories: History 
Online Project. This was not a website consisting of someone's unvetted opinions but a site 
that had scans of actual letters and newspaper and magazine articles. Reading these made 
me realize that original material other than the triaJ transcript was out there, if I was willing 
to follow the trail. I lived in southern Indiana at the time, so I started with the newspaper 
articles, letters, diaries, and photographs in the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the Ameri- 
can Jewish Archives, in the Cincinnati Campus of the Hebrew Union College, Jewish 


Institute of Religion. There Dorothy Smith, Vicki Lipski, Elise Nienaber, and Camille 
Servizzi helped me sort through the archives. 

I read crumbling, orangey brown newspaper clippings with ragged edges that looked as 
if they had been chewed upon by time. Some were so brittle that they had broken along 
the fold lines. I listened to a taped interview of MacLellan Smith, a newspaperman who 
had sat in the courtroom during Leo Frank's original trial. I held letters that Leo had writ- 
ten to Lucille when they were first in love and letters written from the prison farm, and I 
saw how his handwriting changed from the slanted elegance of a confident businessman to 
the more rounded, penciled scrawl of an imprisoned convict. I looked at photographs of 
the lynching. I read Lucille's notes about nursing Leo after his throat was slashed and about 
her horror at his death. And I had to know more. 

The Marcus Center collection mentioned materials at Emory University and the Atlan- 
ta History Center, and I was already aware of a collection at the Breman Jewish Heritage 
and Holocaust Museum. These are all located in Atlanta, so I headed there. In the Robert 
W. Woodruff Library in Atlanta, Kathy Shoemaker was glad to help me and encouraged 
me to photograph their collection. I read the Tennessearis articles about Alonzo Manns 
1982 bombshell, the published version of Hugh Dorsey's closing, newspaper clippings, 
and the transcripts of Governor Slatons hearings. My fascination with Governor Slaton led 
me to his papers, preserved at the Georgia Archives, south of Atlanta in Morrow. Senior 
Archivist Dale Couch and Military Records Archivist Andy Phrydas were invaluable in 
bringing me Slatons correspondence and clippings about his commutation order. I was 
particularly touched by the letter from Lucille, pleading her husband s case. 

In the Ida Pearle and Joseph Cuba Community Archives and Genealogy Center of the 
William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, Archivist Sandy Berman enthusiastically shared 
their collection with me. There I saw many family photographs of Leo and Lucille and 
held the leaflets that Leo prepared in prison and that Lucille typed for him at home. I saw 
the interview of Leo's nephew that Sandy had done in 2002. I read the schoolgirl diaries of 
a Birmingham, Alabama, teenager whose Jewish relatives had fled Atlanta after Governor 
Slatons commutation order. Sandy even showed me Leo's desk and a catalog from the 
National Pencil Company — the collection even had an original pencil from the factory. 

The Kenan Research Center, part of the Atlanta History Center, contained more news- 
paper articles and personal letters. Vice President, Research Services Paul Crater and Refer- 
ence Manager Beth McLean were very helpful in having material ready for me in advance 
and in arranging for speedy photocopying. In addition to newspapers, I read letters that 
Leo and Lucille received from friends, offering sympathy and support and praising their 
steadfastness. I read loving letters from Lucille to Leo, letters from Leo's parents and letters 
from Lucilles parents — including the one Lucille's mother wrote to her while she was in 
Brooklyn for Leo's funeral, telling Lucille that she had Leo's wedding ring but could not 


give any particulars. Holding such a letter in my hand felt as if I were holding that ring, 
myself To read Leo's and Lucille s writing was to feel as if I had met them and as if I had 
been entrusted to tell their story, fairly and honestly, as it had not been told in their lives. 

I have tried to tell that story as jusdy and clearly as I could. I am indebted to my 
insightful critique group: Sandra Brug, Maurene J. Hinds, Kiri Jorgensen, and Linda 
Knox for their thoughtful reading and detailed comments; to the members of my previous 
critique groups: Marilyn D. Anderson, Judy Carney, Kristi Collier, Amanda Forsting, 
Michael Ginsberg, Elaine Hansen, Keiko Kasza, Barbara Larkin, Stuart Lowiy, and Elsa 
Marston for their invaluable feedback on an early version of this book; to Kate Merkling 
for her critical early reading; and to John Merkling for vetting the manuscript through 
legal eyes. I'm grateful to Shannon Barefield for urging me to write this book, for patiently 
spending time in spirited discussions of my manuscript, and for leading me through 
revisions to make the story as clear and as precise as possible, since so many aspects of it 
are difficult to understand and express. I also appreciate Andrew Karres thoughtful guid- 
ance through the final editing and launch of this book and his unfailing good humor as 
he introduced me to Microsoft Word, Facebook, and blogging. As always, my husband, 
Arthur B. Alphin, supported and encouraged me as I researched and pondered and wrote. 
He patiently listened to literally years of my analysis of the case and then took the time to 
read the manuscript and raise questions and offer feedback. I could not have written this 
book without him. 

For me, the true thrill of research comes from doing more than reading books and 
newspapers. It comes from holding letters handwritten by real people. It comes from 
talking to archivists who actually knew the families I was writing about: one who was 
friends with one of Hugh Dorsey's grandsons and another who spent time with Leo's 
nephew. And it comes from seeing actual places. When I drove to Marietta, I thought I 
was prepared to see Tom Watsons lavish gravestone for Mary; and in fact, I walked almost 
instinctively straight to her grave. But I was shattered to see that gravestone crowded with 
teddy bears, just like any modern teenagers locker or gravesite. Many looked sun-faded, 
but others were quite recent, signs of grief that has never abated. Then I searched for the 
intersection that was the site of Leo's lynching and finally found a run-down building 
marked only by two small plaques that had carefully been positioned too high for easy 

Research transports me not only to another place but to another time. It brings the 
people of the past to life again, allowing me to introduce them to you, so that you can 
come to your own understanding of who they were and of what really happened in Atlanta 
in 1913. 



Arnold, Reuben R. The Trial of Leo Frank: Reuben R. Arnold's Address to the Court in His Behalf. Baxley, GA: 
Classic Publishing Co., 1915. 

Atlantic Publishing Co. The Frank Case: Inside Story of Georgia's Greatest Murder Mystery. Atlanta: Atlantic 
Publishing Co., 1913. 

Auchmutey, Jim. "A Murder, a Lynching, a Mystery." Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 1 1, 2000. 

Bricker, Luther Otterbein. Shane Quarterly, April 1943, 89-95. 

Brief of Evidence, Leo M. Frank v. State of Georgia, Supreme Court of Georgia at the October Term, 1913. 
Atlanta, 1913. 

Busch, Francis X. Guilty or Not Guilty? Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1952. 

Connolly, C. P. "The Frank Case." Collier's Weekly, December 19, 1914, 6-24. 

. The Truth about the Frank Case. New York: Vail-Ballou Company, 1915. 

Dinnerstein, Leonard. "The Fate of Leo Frank "American Heritage 47, no. 6 (October 1996): 98-109. 

. The Leo Frank Case. New York: Columbia University Press, 1968. 

Dorsey, Hugh M. Argument of Hugh M. Dorsey, Solicitor-General, Atlanta Judicial Circuit, at the Trial of Leo M. 
Frank, Charged with the Murder of Mary Phagan. Macon, GA: N. Christophulos, n.d. 

Frey, Robert Seitz, and Nancy C.Thompson. The Silent and the Damned: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the 
Lynching of Leo Frank. New York: Cooper Square Press, 2002. 

Garrett, Franklin M. Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events. Vol. 2. Athens: University of 
Georgia Press, 1954. 

Golden, Harry. A Little Girl Is Dead. New York: World Publishing Company, 1965. 

Greene, Ward. Death in the Deep South. New York: American Mercury, 1938. 

G u nth er, John. Taken at the Flood. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1960. 

Harris, Nathaniel E. Autobiography of N.E. Harris. Macon, GA: J. W. Burke Company Publishers, 1925. 

Henson, Allen Lumpkin. Confessions of a Criminal Lawyer. New York: Vantage Press, 1959. 

Hertzberg, Steven. Strangers within the Gate City: The Jews of Atlanta, 1845-1915. Philadelphia: Jewish 
Publication Society of America, 1978. 

Lindemann, Albert S. The Jew Accused. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. 

Mamet, David. The Old Religion. New York: Free Press, 1997. 

Melnick, Jeffrey. Black-Jewish Relations on Trial: Leo Frank and Jim Conleyin the New South. Jackson: 
University Press of Mississippi, 2000. 

Michael, Robert. A Concise History of American Antisemitism. New York: Bowman & Littlefield Publishers, 

Oney, Steve. And The Dead Shall Rise. New York: Pantheon Books, 2003. 

Phagan, Mary. The Murder of Little Mary Phagan. Far Hills, NJ: New Horizon Press, 1987. 


Powell, Arthur G. / Can Go Home Again. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1943. 

Rascoe, Burton. The Case of Leo Frank. Girard, KS: Haldeman-Julius Publications, 1947. 

Samuels, Charles, and Louise Samuels. Night Fell on Georgia. New York: Dell Publishing, 1956. 

Slaton, John M. Commutation Order. Atlanta, June 21, 1915. 

Sutherland, Sidney. "The Mystery of the Pencil Factory." In Ten Real Murder Mysteries— Never Solved! New 
York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1929. 

Todd, A. L Justice on Trial: The Case of Louis D. Brandeis. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964. 

Van Paassen, Pierre. To Number Our Days. New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1964. 

Watson, Thomas W., ed. "The Celebrated Case of the State of Georgia vs. Leo Frank." Watson's Magazine 21, 
no. 4 (August 1915): 182-235. 

Wilkes, Donald. "Wrongly Accused, Falsely Convicted, Wantonly Murdered." Flagpole Magazine, May 5, 2004, 

Wilson, Colin, and Damon Wilson. Written in Blood: A History of Forensic Detection. New York: Carroll & Graf 
Publishers, 2003. 

Woodward, Vann. Tom Watson: Agrarian Rebel. New York: Macmillan Company, 1938. 


Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta Georgian, Atlanta Journal, Baltimore Jewish Com'T, Boston Herald, Boston 
Traveler, Brooklyn Citizen, Brooklyn Eagle, Florida Metropolis, Houston Post, Jeffersonian, Kansas City 
Star, Reno (NVj Gazette, New York Times, Oklahoman, Tuscaloosa (ALj Times-Gazette. 


Georgia Archives, Morrow, GA. 

Georgia Newspaper Project, University of Georgia, Athens. 

Leo Frank Collection, Atlanta History Center, Atlanta. 

Leo Frank Collection, Emory University, Atlanta. 

Leo Frank Collection, Ida Pearle and Joseph Cuba Community Archives and Genealogy Center of the William 
Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum, Atlanta. 

Leo Frank Collection, Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati Campus, 
Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion. 




Brief of Evidence, Leo M. Frank v. State of 
Georgia, Supreme Court of Georgia at the 

October Term, 7073(Atlanta # 1913), 1. 





Harold Ross, "The Leo M. Frank Case by 


a Reporter Who Studied the Tragedy" 


(San Francisco, June 23, 1915), Leo Frank 


Collection, American Jewish Archives, 




Luther Rosser and Herbert Haas, witness 

examination and legal depositions, 1913, 


Leo Frank Collection, American Jewish 


Archives, Cincinnati, 94-95. 



Atlanta Georgian, April 30, 1913. 



Atlanta Constitution, April 28, 1913. 


Henry Alexander, Some Facts About 
the Murder Notes in the Phagan Case 
(Atlanta, 1914), 3-7. 



Atlanta Journal, April 30, 1913. 



Harold Ross, "The Leo M. Frank Case by 
a Reporter Who Studied the Tragedy," 

Leo Frank Collection, American Jewish 


Archives, Cincinnati. 





Brief, 17. 


Ibid., 202. 



Ibid., 11. 



Ibid., 17. 


Ibid., 202. 

17 Ibid. 42 

19 Atlanta Georgian, August 18, 1913. 42 

20 Atlanta Constitution, April 28, 1913. 43 

21 Atlanta Constitution, September 13, 43 
1914. 43 

21 Ibid. 43 

2 1 Brooklyn Citizen, January1915. 43 

24-25 Leo M. Frank to Lucille Frank. June 14, 43 

1909, Leo Frank Collection, American 45 

Jewish Archives, Cincinnati. 46 

25 Atlanta Georgian, June 15, 1913. 49 
29 Brief, 27. 

29 Ibid. 50 

29 Atlanta Journal, April 28, 1913. 50 

30 Brief, 209. 51 

31 Ibid., 210. 51 

33 Atlanta Constitution, April 30, 1 913. 52 

34 Luther Otterbein Bricker, Shane Quarterly, 52 
April 1943, quoted in Golden, 38, and 53 
Leonard Dinnerstein, 77?e Leo Frank Case 55 

(New York: Columbia University Press, 

1968), 33. 

Nashville Tennessean, Sunday special 

section, March 7, 1982. 

Atlanta Journal, April 29, 1913. 

Atlanta Constitution, April 30, 1913. 

Atlanta Georgian, June 15, 1913. 

Lucille Frank to Thomas Loyless, 

September 28, 1915, Leo Frank Collection, 

American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati. 


Brief, 216. 

Ibid., 24. 

Harry Golden, A Little Girl Is Dead (New 

York: World Publishing Company, 1965), 168. 

Luther Otterbein Bricker, Shane Quarterly, 

April 1943, quoted in Golden, 38, and 

Dinnerstein, 33. 

"Pinkerton Investigation Notes, 1913," 

Leo Frank Collection, American Jewish 

Archives, Cincinnati, 11. 

Atlanta Constitution, May 1, 1913. 

C. P. Connolly, The Truth about the Frank 

Case (New York: Vail-Ballou Company, 

1915), 44. 

Atlanta Constitution, May 6, 1913. 

"Pinkerton Investigation Notes, 1913," 

Leo Frank Collection, American Jewish 

Archives, Cincinnati, 10. 

Ibid., 11. 


Atlanta Constitution, May 9, 1913. 



"Pinkerton," 8-9. 

Ibid., 19. 

Atlanta Constitution, May 9, 1913. 

Atlanta Constitution, May 10, 1913. 


John M. Slaton, Commutation Order, 

Atlanta, June 21, 1915. 

Brief, 283. 

Slaton, Commutation. 

Brief, 283. 

Ibid., 289-291. 


Rosser and Haas, 25. 

Atlanta Georgian, July 13, 1913. 

Atlanta Georgian, June 5, 1913. 



Atlanta Journal, May 4, 1 91 5. 



Atlanta Constitution, June 5, 1913. 






Atlanta Georgian, June 5, 1913. 








Deposition of Dewey Hewell, Hamilton 


County, State of Ohio, 1913, American 


Jewish Archives, Cincinnati. 



Steve Oney, And The Dead Shall Rise 
(New York: Pantheon Books, 2003), 88. 



Rosserand Haas, 53-54. 


Atlanta Georgian, July 14, 1913. 



Atlanta Journal, July 28, 1913, quoted in 


Charles Samuels and Louise Samuels, 


Night Fell on Georgia (New York: Dell 

Publishing, 1956), 40. 


Samuels and Samuels, 30; Dinnerstein, 60. 


Donald Wilkes, "Wrongly Accused, 
Falsely Convicted, Wantonly Murdered," 


Flagpole Magazine, May 5, 2004, 7. 



Atlanta Journal, July 28, 1913, quoted in 
Samuels and Samuels, 40. 


Atlanta Constitution, July 28, 1913, quoted 


in Golden, 96, and Oney, 190. 



Brief, 219. 



Samuels and Samuels, 52. 


Atlanta Journal, August 1, 1913. 


Brief, 49. 



Ibid., 46-47. 


Atlanta Georgian, August 2, 1913. 


Brief, 55. 



Oney, 251. 



Atlanta Georgian, August 6, 1913. 



Hugh M. Dorsey, Argument of Hugh M. 


Dorsey, Solicitor-General, Atlanta Judicial 


Circuit, at the Trial of Leo M. Frank, 


Charged with the Murder of Mary Phagan 


(Macon, GA: N. Christophulos, n.d.), 146. 


Atlanta Journal, August 12, 1913. 


Atlanta Constitution, August 13, 1913. 



Atlanta Constitution, August 14, 1913. 


Atlanta Journal, August 14, 1913. 


Atlanta Constitution, August 15, 1913. 



Brief, 2W. 


Dorsey, Argument of Hugh M. Dorsey, 24. 


Samuels and Samuels, 157. 


Ibid., 159. 


Atlanta Georgian, August 22, 1913. 


Samuels and Samuels, 161. 
Hugh M. Dorsey, quoted in Oney, 333. 

Dorsey, Argument of Hugh M. Dorsey, 

Atlanta Constitution, August 26, 1913. 
Frank v. Mangum, 237 U.S. 309 (1914). 
Leo Frank to John Gould, October 29, 
1914, Leo Frank Collection, American 
Jewish Archives, Cincinnati. 
Atlanta Georgian, October 31, 1913. 
Kansas City Star, January 17, 1915. 
Leo Frank, leaflets, Ida Pearle and Joseph 
Cuba Community Archives and Genealogy 
Center of the William Breman Jewish 
Heritage and Holocaust Museum, Atlanta. 
John Gunther, Taken at the Flood [New 
York: Harper and Brothers, 19601,82. 
Henry Alexander, Some Facts About 
the Murder Notes in the Phagan Case 
(Atlanta, 191 4), 3-7. 
Dinnerstein, 90. 

Atlanta Georgian, March 13, 1914. 
Albert Lasker to Leo Frank, November 23, 
1914, Leo Frank Collection, Atlanta History 

Louis Marshall to Herbert Haas, Decem- 
ber 21, 1914, Leo Frank Collection, Atlanta 
History Center. 

Atlanta Journal, December 21, 1914. 
Frank v. Mangum, 237 U.S. 309 (1914). 
Atlanta Journal, May 10, 1915. 
Atlanta Journal, November 22, 1914. 
Jeffersonian Magazine, June 24, 1915. 
Atlanta Journal, November 22, 1914. 
Associated Press, March 15, 1914, box 
2/11, American Jewish Archives, Cincin- 

L. S. Roan to Luther Rosser et al, Decem- 
ber 1914, in Atlanta Journal, April 20, 1915, 
and in Atlanta Georgian, May 31, 1915. 
J. J. Barge to the Honorable Prison 
Commission and His Excellency, the 
Governor of Georgia, May 31, 1915, Leo 
Frank Collection, American Jewish 
Archives, Cincinnati. 
Jeffersonian Magazine, March 19, 1914. 






100 Brooklyn Citizen, September 2, 1913. 

1 00 Jeffersonian Magazine, June 24, 1 91 5. 

100 Reno (NVj Gazette, December 23, 1914. 

100-101 Kansas City Star, January 17, 1915. 

1 02 Slaton, Commutation, 28. 

103 New York Times, November 28, 1914. 

103 Boston Traveler, June 1, 1915. 

104 John M. Slaton, "The Frank Case," July 
30, 1954, Ida Pearle and Joseph Cuba 
Community Archives and Genealogy 
Center of the William Breman Jewish 
Heritage and Holocaust Museum, Atlanta, 

Atlanta Constitution, October 3, 1914. 
Marjorie Smith to anonymous, December 
28, 1914, Leo Frank Collection, Atlanta 
History Center. 

Florida Metropolis, June 21, 1915. 
Slaton, Commutation, 28. 
Watson Magazine, "The Celebrated Case 
of the State of Georgia vs. Leo Frank," 
August 1915, 235. 

107 Atlanta Constitution, June 22, 1915. 

107 New York Times, June 22, 1915. 

107 Robert Seitz Frey and Nancy C. Thomp- 

son, 77?e Silent and the Damned: The 
Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching 
of Leo Frank (New York: Cooper Square 
Press, 2002), 89-90. 

109 New York Times, June 27, 1915. 

109 Boston Herald, August 19, 1915. 

110 Leo Frankto Rachel Frank, August 4, 1915, 
Leo Frank Collection, American Jewish 
Archives, Cincinnati. 

110 Leo Frank to Lucille Frank, June 22, 1915, 
Leo Frank Collection, American Jewish 
Archives, Cincinnati. 

1 1 1 Eleanore Stern to Leo Frank and Lucille 
Frank, mss 91, box 5, folder 2 and 3, Leo 
Frank Collection, Atlanta History Center. 

111 Tuscaloosa (AL) Times-Gazette, June 21, 

111-112 Tuscaloosa (AL) Times-Gazette, July 11, 

112 Leo Frank to Lucille Frank, June 28, 1915, 
Leo Frank Collection, American Jewish 
Archives, Cincinnati. 

1 1 2 Baltimore Jewish Com'T, July 23, 191 5. 

113 Ibid. 


Lucille Frank, July 17, 1915, Leo Frank 

Collection, American Jewish Archives. 


Jeffersonian Magazine, July 22, 1915. 


Oklahoma City Oklahoman, July 20, 1915. 


Houston Post, July 29, 1915. 


Baltimore Jewish Com'T, July 23, 1915. 


Herbert Haas to Lucille Frank, July 24, 

1915, Leo Frank Collection, Atlanta History 



Leo Frank to Rachel Frank, August 4, 1915, 

Leo Frank Collection, American Jewish 

Archives, Cincinnati. 


New York Times, August 19, 1915. 


Atlanta Constitution, August 18, 1915. 


Augusta (GAj Chronicle, August 23, 1915. 




New York Times, August 19, 1915. 




Atlanta Journal, August 17, 1915. 




Atlanta Georgian, August 18, 1915. 


New York Times, August 18, 1915. 


Brooklyn Eagle, August 18, 1915. 


New York Times, August 18, 1915. 




Public Affairs Press, 1962, 60. 


Nashville Tennessean, Sunday special 

section, March 7, 1982. 






Collier's: The National Weekly 54, no. 15 

(December 26, 1914), quoted in Connolly, 



Augusta (GAj Chronicle-Herald, May 15, 



Georgia State Board of Pardons and 

Paroles, "Decision in Response to Ap- 

plication for Posthumous Pardon for Leo 

M.Frank," March 11, 1986. 


Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 6, 



Pierre Van Paassen, To Number Our Days 

(New York: Charles Scribners Sons), 238. 


Mary Phagan, The Murder of Little Mary 

Phagan {Far Hills, NJ: New Horizon Press, 

1987), 226. 


Nashville Tennessean, March 7, 1982. 



Alexander, Henry, 90-93 
American Jewish Committee, 89, 124 
Anti-Defamation League, 124, 125, 130 
anti-Semitism, 26, 38, 61, 69, 79-80, 87, 99-100, 

131-132; erupts after clemency, 107-109 
appeals process, 87, 89, 94-96, 97, 98 
Arnold, Reuben, 58, 60, 67, 73, 78, 82, 87 
Atlanta, GA, 19, 24, 26; Jewish community of, 24, 26, 


Barrett, Robert, 29 

Beavers, James L, 29-30, 36 

Black, John, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 20, 30, 34-35, 36, 

37-38, 40-41, 50; testifies at trial, 65, 66 
B'nai B'rith, 26, 124, 125 

Epps, George, 6, 55, 65, 74 

evidence, 27, 29-30, 31, 45-46, 48, 50, 90; bloody 

shirt, 34-35, 45; notes at murder site, 12-13, 

19-20, 34, 90-91; at trial, 66-67 

Ferguson, Helen, 6, 10, 14, 42, 75 
Frank, Leo M., 14, 15-20, 30, 31, 95, 97; arrest, 
35-38; early life, 21-23, 24-26; family, 21, 
23, 79-80, 1 11; funeral, 122-123; indictment, 
45-48; lynching, 118-124; marriage, 24-25; 
pardon, 128, 129; in prison, 11 0-1 15; throat cut, 
112-113; at trial, 63, 65-66, 80-82, 85; writes 
leaflets, 88-89 
Frank, Lucille (nee Selig), 14, 24-25, 36-37, 56-57, 

Carter, Annie Maud, 91, 93 

Chambers, Philip, 75, 76 

character witnesses, 78-80, 82 

child labor, 26 

Childs, Leroy, 73 

Civil War, 6, 23 

clemency, 98, 102-103, 104-106, 107 

Coleman, Frannie, 6, 10-11, 32, 65 

Collier's Weekly, 97, 98 

Confederate Memorial Day, 6, 8, 23 

Conley, Jim, 49-54, 59-60,73, 130-131; confesses 
murder, 52-53, 74, 93, 104, 130; evidence 
against, 104-105, 127-131; motive for murder, 
58-59, 128; testifies at trial, 69, 71; writer of 
notes, 91 ,92 

Craig, Britt, 11,14,20,34 

Creen, J. William, 112, 115 

Dalton, C.Brutus, 71-72 

death penalty, 63, 85, 94, 103, 119 

Donehoo, Paul, 39-40, 41, 45 

Dorsey, Hugh, 38, 45, 46-48, 50, 53-54, 55, 92; at 

Frank's trial, 62, 65, 66, 76, 78-79, 82-85; 

manipulates testimony, 49, 55-58, 132; political 

aims of, 62, 109; works against appeal and 

clemency, 87, 93-94, 95, 107 

Gantt, James, 20 
Green, Will, 52-53, 104 
guilty verdict, 85, 87, 94 

Harris, Henry, 45, 66-67, 90 
Harris, Nat, 102, 109 
Hicks, Grace, 9, 10,42 
Holloway,J.M., 52 
Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 95, 96 
Hurt, J. W., 45, 67 

indictment, 45-48 

inquest, coroner's, 38, 39-44 

investigation, 29-31, 34-35 

Jewish community, 24, 26, 90, 109; supports Frank, 

Jews, prejudice against. See anti-Semitism 
jury, 84, 85, 87, 98 

Kennedy, Magnolia, 29, 75 

Knights of Mary Phagan, 107, 116, 124 



Lanford, Newport, 20, 30-31, 53, 56 

Lasker, Albert, 89-91, 94 

lawyers, Frank's, 30-31, 35-36, 58, 65, 78, 79, 82, 87, 
89, 95; appeal case, 87-88, 90-93, 95; costs 
of, 88, 89 

Lee, Newt, 11, 12, 14, 20, 30, 31, 34, 37-38, 39; testi- 
fies at trial, 65 

lynch mob, 116-119; names of, 117, 124 

Mann, Alonzo, 34, 41, 75, 130; accuses Conley, 

Marshall, Louis, 89, 95 
McKnight, Minola, 55-56, 67, 76, 94 
medical testimony, 66-67, 73, 90 
Mincey, William, 74 
mob mentality, 98, 99, 107, 119, 122, 132 
Morris, Newt, 119, 122 
Mullinax, Arthur, 20 

National Pencil Co., 6, 8, 10, 26, 80, 112 
newspapers, 20, 26; murder coverage, 25-27, 30, 32, 

33, 34, 35, 40, 42, 47; trial coverage, 67-69, 77, 

night witch, 91 
northerners, attitude toward, 23-24, 26, 40, 49, 80, 

99, 131 

pardon, 128,129 

Phagan, Mary, 6-8, 23, 26; dead body of, 9, 11, 

45-46, 66-67; family of, 6, 10, 14, 32-33; funeral 

of, 32-33 
Pinkerton detectives, 31, 36, 40-41, 42, 50. See also 

Scott, Harry 
Pirk, Mary, 58-59 
popular opinion: against Frank, 61, 62, 65, 71, 74, 85, 

93,95, 100, 103-104, 107-109; for justice, 97, 


Quinn, Lemmie,29,41-42,46 

racism, 11,12, 14,49,56,59,71,105 
rape, 11,66-67 
Reconstruction, 23-24, 26 
reporters, 11, 14, 20, 30, 34, 58, 132 
Roan, Leonard, 61, 71, 76, 85, 98; denies new trial, 88 
Rogers,W.W."Boots,"9,15, 17 
Ross, Harold, 12,14,20 

Rosser, Luther, 30-31, 35-36, 58, 60; appeals case, 
87-88, 90; at trial, 65, 66, 71, 72, 73, 78, 82 

Schiff, Herbert, 31, 74, 112 

Scott, Harry, 36, 37, 40-41, 50, 73; bias against Frank, 

Selig, Emil, 24 
Selig, Josephine, 24,76 
Sentell, Edgar, 20 
sexual misconduct, accusations of, 42-44, 48, 57, 69, 

76, 82; Frank refutes, 80 
Simmons, Mrs. J. B., 93, 94 
Slaton, John, 30, 102-104, 105-106, 122, 134; grants 

clemency, 107; mob attacks, 107-109 
Smith, William, 53-54, 69, 104 
Starnes,John, 12, 14,29 
Stover, Monteen, 46, 66 
Supreme Court: Georgia, 94, 97, 98; U.S., 95, 96, 97 

timeline of murder, 6, 8, 48, 55-56, 60, 73-74, 75, 88, 

trial, 61-85; guilty verdict, 85, 87, 94; mood in court- 
room, 61, 62, 65, 71, 74, 85 

Turner, Willie, 57 

Van Paassen, Pierre, 132 

Watson, Tom, 99-100, 102-103, 107, 109, 113, 122 
witnesses, manipulation of, 52, 55, 56, 73, 76, 90, 93 

Yankees. See northerners, attitude toward 




The Atlanta Georgian, (background image) pp. 1, 3, 5, 6, 9, 15, 21, 25, 27, 29, 34, 39, 45, 49, 55, 61, 73, 87, 97, 
102, 110, 116, 117, 126, 135; (main image) pp. 27, 35; Photos courtesy of The Cuba Archives of the Breman 
Museum, Atlanta, GA, pp. 18, 22, 25, 32, 47, 53, 64, 68, 70, 75, 77, 79, 81, 84 (both), 86, 89, 91 (right), 92 (all), 
98, 114, 121 (bottom), 125 (both), 126,129, 135; New York Times Company Records, Adolph Ochs Papers, 
Manuscripts and Archives division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations, 
pp. 7, 46, 49, 58, 62-63 (all); Courtesy of Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia Collection, (BUR049) 
p. 8; (GWN150) p. 108; (BAL051) p. 120; (C0B852) p. 121 (top); Courtesy of the Kenan Research Center 
at the Atlanta History Center, p. 10; © Bettmann/CORBIS, pp. 16, 91 (left), 113, 123 ; Atlanta Journal and 
Constitution, p. 39 (bottom); Library of Congress, (LC-USZ62-92298) p. 96; (LC-USZ62-1 30993) p. 99; Courtesy 
of Georgia Archives, Ad Hoc Collection, (LPC483), p. 102; © 1982, The Tennessean, p. 129. 

Front cover:© paul kline (noose); Bettmann/Corbis (portrait of Leo). Back cover: Photo 
courtesy of The Cuba Archives of the Breman Museum, Atlanta, GA.